A/N: Thanks for everyone who read the last chapter and reviewed, favorited or followed the story. And as always, thanks to Leka for fixing my mistakes and ensuring I don't make a fool of myself. Now, onwards!
Chapter 9: It Begins
It filled the Great Hall. A weight bearing down upon the occupants who sat at their tables, stunned. As Harry walked towards the table marked by silver-and-green banners, the eyes that followed him to the Sorting Hat, followed him again to the table. Harry looked towards the Head table, seeing an entire rainbow of expressions on the faces of the Professors. He met the eyes of Professor Snape, which immediately narrowed when they made contact with Harry's. His lips thinned and it seemed as if Professor Snape had been forced to eat something rather sour. Harry's steps echoed throughout the entire hall until he arrived, acknowledging the slack-jawed looks of astonishment with a raised eyebrow and a small amount of embarrassment. He looked at the brown-haired, dimpled girl next to him and said quietly,
"You know, it's a bit rude to stare."
The girl closed her mouth with a snap and blushed furiously, "I'm sorry! Tracey Davis, nice to meet you," she held out her hand, which Harry shook, "Harry Potter, nice to meet you as well." Harry took a seat and turned to watch the rest of the Sorting take place, purposefully ignoring the continued stares in his direction. The Sorting continued without any other incident, with Blaise as the final one Sorted.
When the Hat proclaimed Blaise in Slytherin, Harry's face broke into a wide grin. As Blaise walked to the table, he looked at Harry and returned his grin with a smirk,
"I couldn't let you have all the fun without me. Someone has got to keep you from doing something stupid,"
Harry shook his head and laughed, "I wish you the best of luck, my friend,"
Before the two could continue the conversation, an odd-looking man with blue eyes, a long, white beard and wildly outlandish robes stepped up to the central podium and addressed the students.
"Another year begins anew here at Hogwarts. Some of you coming to the end of your educational journey, while others have only just begun. I am Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of this school and if you would indulge an old man for a few moments, I have some words I would like to say. Firstly, let me welcome the newest students and let you all know what a pleasure it is to have you as a part of our Hogwarts family-
Harry heard Blaise snort and whisper to him softly,
"If this is a family, it's awfully dysfunctional. According to my mother, Slytherin is pretty much the step-child nobody wanted,' A dark look briefly passed over Blaise's face, 'she said if anything, it's just a bunch of awkward cousins that don't really like each other."
As Harry pondered Blaise's statement, Alera spoke up,
'Interesting, this school may be an early test for you my young conqueror,'
Sensing Harry's confusion she continued,
'Every First Lord that ever ruled Alera did so differently. Some, like Sextus, preferred to exercise their power to cow the other High Lords to their will. They ruled through respect, fear and constant scheming. Others, such as Septimus and his son Octavian, had a way about them that drew others to their cause. They could turn enemies into allies and inspired people to follow them anywhere. Unfortunately, they also had a tendency to die at the most inopportune times, Septimus especially. This school can serve as a training ground for a future ruler such as yourself. I am eager to see what you will become young one, for assuredly no man sets out to become a tyrant, yet they find themselves one nonetheless.'
Disconcerted by Alera's words, Harry tried to turn his attention back towards Dumbledore, who appeared to be finishing up,
"Now, I'm sure you've had enough of my ramblings, so I believe there are only two more words to say. Tuck in!"
At Dumbledore's words the platters in front of them filled with all types of food. It was a feast such as he had ever seen before. His eyes wide with delight, Harry couldn't recall ever seeing so much food in his young life. The thought that it was prepared and meant for him was thrilling and joy filled him at the realization. The abundance of smells, from the roast beef and chicken to the tureens of gravy almost overwhelmed him. Harry almost began salivating when the plates of sausages and mashed potatoes appeared, and he could not even remember the last time he ate actual vegetables, due to the Dursley's relative loathing of them.
Seeing Harry's expression, Blaise gently nudged Harry, "It's not gonna eat itself," and handed Harry a plate of chicken. The green-eyed boy immediately began piling food onto his plate, determined to eat all of the food he was unable to at the Dursleys.
"Easy there, save some for the rest of the year!" Blaise teased.
Harry blushed and slowed down a bit, but before he could take a bite, he heard a throat clear beside him. He looked to see that a somewhat dejected Tracey had been pushed down the table and, in her place, sat the blonde-haired, poncey-looking boy from earlier flanked by two other boys that looked a bit too large to be eleven. As Harry turned to him with a raised eyebrow, the boy spoke,
"When my father told me that Harry Potter was going to be at Hogwarts this year, I would have never guessed he would get Sorted into Slytherin. It is certainly going to be an interesting letter home."
Harry couldn't help himself,
"I'm sorry…you are?"
The blonde boy reddened a bit, "Of course, how could I forget. My name is Draco, Draco Malfoy and these two are Crabbe and Goyle,' He gestured to the large boys next to him, 'You're lucky I came around when I did, Hogwarts can be tough to navigate, especially in Slytherin. You don't want to end up hanging around the wrong sort,' His gaze briefly flicked towards Tracey, 'I can help you there."
Draco held out his hand and it took every fiber of Harry's being to avoid drawing strength from the earth and decking the condescending boy in front of him. He took a deep breath and replied,
"Uh…okay, cool. Well, I'm actually having a conversation with Tracey here but I'm sure we can talk later," Harry waved Tracey over to the spot next to him.
Malfoy's face reddened even further as he lowered his hand to his side and clenched it into a fist.
"Of course,' He said with a forced smile, 'My…apologies. We'll talk later, Potter."
"I'm sure we will," Harry said under his breath.
As Draco and his goons retreated back to the other side of the table, Tracey returned to her original seat with a sheepish look on her face.
"Thanks," she said softly.
"It's no problem," replied Harry, "I can't stand people like that,"
Blaise on the other hand looked positively gleeful,
"That was brilliant!"
Harry just shrugged and returned to his food,
'It seems my teachings on dealing with politics have fallen on deaf ears,' Alera said sounding disappointed.
'He was being a jerk,' Harry grumbled
Alera's tone rang with warning, 'A First Lord must have a keen mind and sharp wit as well as power. It does not matter what your strength with furycraft is if you cannot avoid the honeyed words of a viper."
Harry sighed and continued eating, listening to Blaise tell Tracey about Harry's outwitting of Draco in excruciating detail.
Whilst Blaise kept talking, the platters of food slowly faded and, in their place, stood a vision out of Harry's dreams. Sweets and desserts piled higher than he could have possibly imagined, and right in front of him, as if someone knew, there was a plate of treacle tart, just calling his name. The boy dug into the plate in front of him with gusto, drawing the eye of Blaise,
"Well, it seems the weakness of the Boy-Who-Lived is simply sweets. Treacle tart is all you need to defeat him!"
Harry fixed Blaise with a glower, which simply caused the dark-skinned boy's grin to widen. Harry decided to ignore his friend and focus on the pile of glorious sugar in front of him and, in what could only be described as a cruel joke, the sweets disappeared after only fifteen minutes. Harry looked at his plate, aghast, while Blaise and Tracey burst into laughter at the look of shock on his face. Before he could vocalize his frustration, they heard a cough that slowly garnered the attention of the Great Hall.
Dumbledore made his way back to the podium,
"Now that we're all fed and watered, I believe there are only a few announcements before I send you off to bed. Mr. Filch has a new updated list of banned items that you can all look over outside of his office. As always, the Forbidden Forest is off-limits, as is the third-floor corridor unless you wish to die a most painful death…' Harry's eyebrow's rose at the statement but Dumbledore continued on without explanation, 'Now! Schedules will be handed out tomorrow morning and Prefects, please lead the first years to their dormitories. Off you trot!"
At Dumbledore's proclamation, the students began to rise and make their way out of the Great Hall, the other first years gathering around a few older students. Harry followed Blaise and Tracey towards two older Slytherins who gathered the other first years around them. When all the first years were accounted for the boy spoke,
"My name is Adrian Pucey and this is Vivian Grager. We're the 5th year prefects and Professor Snape has told us to guide you to the dorms and inform you about conducting yourself like a Slytherin. Follow us."
Pucey and Grager both turned and began walking briskly, not even checking to see if the first years were keeping up. The group continued walking for a few minutes, going down a couple of flights of stairs until they found themselves in a dark, rather drafty area of the castle. The two older students stopped in front of a bare stone wall and regarded the first-years in front of them. Vivian spoke once they were all accounted for,
"Here is the entrance to the Slytherin common room. Listen carefully because I am only going to do this once,' Vivian turned to the wall and simply said, 'Power" and the wall split down the middle, a staircase leading further down into the bowels of the castle. The two Prefects continued down the staircase without preamble, the first-years scurrying after them. After a short descent, Harry got his first glance of what would become his home for the next seven years. He could scarcely believe his eyes. Across from the entrance was a wall made entirely out of glass, offering an underwater view of the lake surrounding the castle. Fish of every kind swam across the glass as well as what seemed to be some strange creatures that he would no doubt be learning about during his schooling. Moonlight filtered through the water gave the entire room an eerie cast. It was surprisingly warm, with a roaring fire in a fireplace and couches and armchairs all around the room. Snakes seemed to be the prevailing theme as they were everywhere. They were etched in stone on the walls and small statues of them sat on the pedestals on the second floor. Over the fire sat a large portrait of a thin man with rather fine, noble features who nodded at the students as they entered the room. As the first-years looked around the room, Pucey recalled their attention once again,
"Welcome to the common room, much of your time will be spent here working on assignments from your professors as well as interacting with your fellow housemates. There are to be no loud noises out of respect for the upper years' work and be advised that any disturbances will be dealt with quickly. Now, boys come with me and girls with Vivian,"
Pucey turned on his heel and began walking briskly towards a hallway on one side of the dungeons. At the same time, Grager led the girls towards a hallway in the opposite direction.
Harry and the other first-years gave chase behind Pucey, following him as they passed door after door, traveling a rather long distance until Pucey stood waiting for them at the end of the hall.
"There are two students per room, first year students at the end of the hall and seventh years closest to the common room. With seniority comes privilege and with merit comes reward. You must earn everything in Slytherin, something you will learn quickly. Your performance in class determines some of the…comforts you may receive.
"Also, be aware that the rest of the school does not have the highest opinion of our house, which is why you must remain united outside of this room. Slytherins stay together, at least in public. Your room assignments are on the doors, find yours and get some rest. You'll get your schedules tomorrow at breakfast from Professor Snape and you'll begin your first day of classes immediately after. Welcome to Slytherin."
With that, Pucey walked back down the hallway, leaving the slightly shell-shocked first-years to ponder the meaning of his words. Harry looked around for his name on one of the doors, excitement filling him when he saw the name underneath his.
Harry turned to Blaise with a grin, "It looks like you can't get rid of me yet,"
Blaise returned the grin, "It certainly seems that way, why don't we take a look at our home for the next year?"
Nodding, Harry pushed open the door revealing two rather plain beds with their trunks at the foot and…that was it. Nothing else sat in the room other than the beds and their belongings. Off to the side was a small bathroom with a single toilet and shower. A slight chill permeated through the solid stone room causing the two boys to shiver slightly. They looked at each other and Harry gave Blaise a wry look,
"Everything is earned indeed,"
The dark-skinned boy cracked a smile, "Then let's get some rest, I have no desire to live like this much longer."
Harry nodded and the two boys collapsed onto the beds, exhausted and a bit cold, as they prepared for the first day of their magical education.
A/N: Apologies for the delay! Between writer's block mixed being a full-time student, juggling an internship as well as a dearth of other commitments, ya boy is BUSY! But I thank you for your patience. I have no designs on abandoning this story and I look forward to continuing it. I hope you all enjoyed this chapter and as always don't forget to leave some reviews! Peace!