Chapter 10 – The Rules of the Snake Pit

Disclaimer: Harry Potter and its characters do not belong to me, otherwise there would be a LOT of, dragons?

The first-year snakes quickly found themselves gathered up by a blonde fifth-year bearing a silver prefect badge with an emerald snake proudly on her left shoulder.

Out of the Great Hall, past the Marble Staircase and the small chamber McGonagall had left them in earlier, and through a stone archway, which gave way to a set of stairs. Their journey into the Castle's depths was lit by the fires of torches set into the stone walls. Occasionally one would flicker, casting shadows onto the walls opposite.

As they passed by another torch, Hannah's eyes narrowed, focusing on the carved snake near the left of the stone sconce.

"Huh, that's the third snake so far." she muttered.

"What?" Blaize asked, turning to look back at her.

Hannah frowned, before gesturing towards the carving.

"Can't you see them?" she asked in surprise.

Blaize shook his head slowly.

"There's nothing-" he began.

"I can." Harry said softly. "They're singing."

"Singing?" Blaize blinked.

Hearing them, the prefect turned with a smile.

"We're in the dungeons – Slytherin's domain. Each of the four Founders is said to have an area of the Castle, normally taken to be near their House's Common Room." she laughed. "Personally, I don't believe the gossip. Apparently, the carved snakes are all over the Castle, but not everyone can see them." she shrugged, before halting at a blank section of wall. "Right, this is the entrance to our Common Room. If you look closely at the torch behind you, you will notice the flame has a very slight green tinge. Another clue is the crack on the floor in the shape of a coiled snake. The password changes monthly, with the new one being posted on the notice board. For now, the password is Squill, so make sure to remember. If you forget, you can ask someone for help, but be warned that the Exchange System is in use." she grinned, before turning and giving the password.

Much like the entrance to Diagon Alley, the stones shuddered, before parting. As they moved, the edges twisted up into an elegant archway, decorated with writhing stone snakes.

"Well, in you go!" the prefect chuckled, breaking the stunned silence.

The Common Room was tastefully decorated, with a large portrait hanging above a lit fire-place, featuring a study. The single occupant was seated behind the desk, holding a glass of amber liquid, dark eyes observing the room. Several comfy-looking chairs sat nearby, the closer to the fire, the more ornate the chair.

More chairs were dotted round the room, including a few couches by the walls. Instead of a wall, the far end of the room consisted of a gigantic pane of glass, looking out into the lake and casting an eerie greenish glow into the room.

Harry's reconnaissance of the room was interrupted by Sev – er, Professor Snape's arrival.

The man in question swept in behind the gathered first-years, making for the fire place.

"Welcome, to the Snake Pit." he began, his quiet voice easily heard throughout the room. "Over the years, this House has seen many students pass through – some more well-known than others. People such as Merlin and Phineas Black. You can read more, if interested, in the House Library." he motioned to a door partially-hidden in a corner. "However, each student sorted into Slytherin is a Snake – no matter which of the House attributes they display. Whether that be cunning, resourcefulness, or ambition." he sighed, eyes passing over each of the assembled students. "I see no reason to lie – to any of you. In a way, you have been handed pretty much a death sentence, from the moment the Hat declared you a Snake. The headmaster, I'm sure you've heard by now, favours the Lions. Similarly, the other teachers favour their Houses. But, they will take any and all opportunities to penalise you for being a Snake. This leads us to the Rules. A copy is available on the noticeboard. Firstly, any disagreements will be sorted out here in the Common Room. The dungeons will be your only Safe Zone. Other Houses will target you, so travel in groups. For the first week, older students will guide the first-years around. Pranks and other...mischief...are permitted, just don't get caught. Any detentions you get assigned will earn you a second – with me. Curfew and bed-times can be found on the noticeboard, along with my office hours. I also expect you all to join at least two study groups – the sign-up sheets will be available tomorrow, and you have until the end of the week to join. Now, for the information the headmaster neglected to mention. The first Dragon Games will take place in three weeks. This will consist of a Race in the morning, followed by a Battle Royale in the afternoon. Sign-up opens on the Wednesday before. Also, the way grades are ranked has changed." he sneered, obviously not in favour of the update. "It has been decided that students are spending too much time studying." he was greeted by a chorus of snorts and stifled laughter. "Indeed. However, that is the headmaster's decision. Therefore, you will all find a device waiting for you on your beds. Be warned, that the games on the device will make up 50% of your overall grade. The headmaster hasn't told us how this will be calculated – only that each device has the same amount of 'memory', and the students can choose which games they play. Whether further instructions will be coming remains to be seen. I will have your class schedules tomorrow morning before breakfast. Goodnight." he nodded sharply, before leaving.

"Alright, listen up!" the blonde prefect called. "The name's Gemma Farley, I'm a 5th year prefect, as shown by this badge here." she motioned to it. "Each House has two a year, starting at 5th. Above the prefects, you have the Head Boy and Girl. The other position for each House to look out for is Games Captain. If you need any help, come find one of us. If we can't help, for whatever reason, we'll point you to someone who can. Now, you may have noticed that some chairs are nicer than others." Gemma grinned. "The basic rule is the nicer the chair, the higher the status within the Slytherin Court. Our current King is John Marshall, 7th year. But enough of that. What Professor Snape didn't mention, was that we are the luckiest of the four Houses. Why, you ask? Because we have the dungeons. Our territory. While the others are all cramped, we have several empty classrooms, passage-ways, you name it! This means each year has four dorms, as opposed to two, and their own mini-common room. Of course, boys can't enter girl's dorms, and vice versa. Boys, take the door on the left, girls on the right. You'll find your name on the door to your dorm. Off to bed with you!" Gemma chuckled, shooing them along.