Fandom: HP x Greek and Roman Mythology
Summary: First night.
"My name is Gemma Farley," The blonde Slytherin prefect introduces to the gaggle of first-years assembled in the common room before gesturing at the boy next to her. "This is Vasili Rosier." The boy - dark-haired but pale-skinned with sharp, solemn eyes - inclines his head. Gemma continues, "We are the fifth-year prefects. To his left are Claudia Greengrass and Odysseus Metis, the sixth-year prefects."
Claudia - also pale but with braided brown hair - nods coolly, while Ody doesn't, but his gaze sweeps the first-years, lingering on Harry when their eyes meet before moving on. He doesn’t smile but he exudes a natural sort of approachability that the other prefects don’t quite have, and Harry spots a few other first-years giving Ody an extra-long look.
“And Diomedes Zaria and Estella Shacklebolt, the seventh-year prefects.”
Diomedes nods at them as well, polite if not particularly interested. He has a weird name too, and Harry wonders if he’s somehow related to Ody. Estella on the other hand is dark-haired and dark-skinned and dark-eyed, taller than the other two girls and even Vasili, and there’s a steadiness to her gaze and her stance that makes her seem dependable.
Harry listens intently as Gemma goes on to explain the roles of the prefects and who the younger students can approach if they have problems with homework or trouble adjusting to the school, if they’re feeling ill or having nightmares, if they have complaints against a fellow student or even a teacher, and so on and so forth. Lower years are divided between the prefects – the two fifth-years are responsible for third-year students, the two seventh-years are responsible for second-year students, and the two sixth-years – because they don’t have future-defining exams to write – are responsible for both the first- and fourth-years, something Harry is both delighted and relieved to hear.
“But,” Vasili speaks up for the first time, tone as sharp as his eyes. “We are Slytherin. If you haven’t already noticed, we are not liked by most of the other three Houses, and the best we can expect from the professors is impartiality. Some, because of our families and where we come from. Others, simply because some of us are Pureblood. Still others because we continue to uphold our traditions and refuse to let the Ministry or the muggleborns trample over them just by ridding us of our holidays and replacing them with muggle ones, or removing books from the library as if that will prevent us from practicing our customs, or allowing the other Houses to look down on us without reproach.
“Let them,” Vasili’s expression curls into a faint look of disdain but there’s a stubborn pride in his eyes, and his voice keeps Harry and the other first-years mesmerized. “Let them think they are better than us. Let them throw their insults and feel superior and call us evil. And then prove every last one of them wrong. We are Slytherin. We have our honour and our pride. We uphold our beliefs even when the rest of the world scorns us for it. You are in the Wizarding world now. For the halfbloods amongst you-” The prefect’s gaze settles on a few of them, including Harry, which almost makes him shrink back. “-I would advise against flaunting any muggle upbringing you might have. By all means, if you wish, believe what you were raised to believe in. But it would be very foolish of you to completely reject the traditions of this world, your world, our world, out of hand in sole favour of muggle beliefs, and even more foolish to parade it, especially in this House. You are not muggles. No matter what your background or where you come from, you are witches and wizards, and if you do not know your own ancestry or the history of our race, you are expected to learn it. Ignorance is not an excuse.
“Most importantly however, you are Slytherins, and as Slytherins, we must stand together. If you have a problem with one another, fine, but keep it in the House. Keep it private. We are already at a disadvantage, and so we must be above reproach. That goes for everything from schoolwork to conduct to differences of opinions with other students.”
And this time, his gaze turns to- Harry looks. Oh, Malfoy. Who stiffens, and – judging by the contempt on his face – seems to have been itching to say something for a while now, and the boy takes the opportunity to jump in now.
“You must be kidding, Rosier,” Malfoy says loudly, and Harry’s eyes widen at his gall. The blond is either very brave or very stupid.
He sneaks a glance back at Vasili, whose expression has gone chilly even as he lets Malfoy say his piece. The other prefects are all watching with varying degrees of unsurprised amusement, indulgent in a way that speaks of mockery more than anything else.
Except Ody, who watches with old eyes and no expression at all.
Looking at Malfoy again, Harry decides he’s going to go with very stupid. He catches Blaise’s subtle eyeroll and knows he’s not the only one who thinks that.
“You’re speaking as if we’re to treat halfbloods as equals,” Malfoy continues and actually sniffs condescendingly at a girl on the right who goes tense even as the girl beside her – as pretty as she is cold – pulls herself to her full height and glares back at Malfoy. Malfoy ignores her and turns his sneer on even Gemma Farley, who merely arches an eyebrow back. “Farley’s certainly not a pureblood name but we’re supposed to see her as a prefect? I know the standards are low for the other Houses but this is Slytherin. Are we going to let mudbloods in next-”
“We don’t use that language here, Malfoy,” Vasili cuts him off at the knees and leaves him gaping. The fifth-year prefect regards the blond with more than a little disapproval. “Not anymore. You may be better than halfbloods and muggleborns and other purebloods. In fact, you’re expected to be, in this House. But it won’t be because you’re a pureblood.” He surveys all of them again with a weighty sort of judgement in his eyes. “It will be because you worked harder, you studied more, and you put in the effort to be better.” He looks once more at Malfoy. “You’ll soon find that your family name won’t do you much good over the next seven years, Malfoy.”
Malfoy flushes a soft pink, indignant embarrassment and outrage colouring his features. “I’m a Malfoy; you can’t speak to me like that! Wait until my father hears about this!”
He reddens even more when Claudia Greengrass snorts delicately, and Estella Shacklebolt rolls her eyes.
“Write to your father then,” Vasili finally sneers. “But I doubt even he can buy you respect in this House if you insist on your current behaviour.”
Malfoy glowers, mouth opening to shoot back something else, but he doesn’t get the chance.
“You’ll learn to stand on your own two feet here,” Ody says, and he doesn’t make any grand gestures or even raise his voice above what’s normal. He doesn’t even come all the way forward to stand in front of the first-years, but as if on cue, all the other prefects, even the seventh-years, step aside for him, three on one side, two on the other, and Harry thinks – if Slytherin has a leader – he’s definitely looking at him.
Honestly, it’s not that much of a surprise.
“Reputation is earned,” Ody continues, his gaze moving from one first-year to the next. “The respect you’ll get here, and indeed, in the future once you’ve graduated, will depend largely on your actions throughout your entire life. What you can make of yourself with your own two hands, the things you can achieve with your own ambition and your own mind despite the difficulties – that is what it means to be a Slytherin. Accomplishments mean nothing if they are simply handed to you, and believing you are entitled to such favour will only drag you down.”
He looks last at Malfoy, who doesn’t seem quite as eager to speak under the scrutiny of Ody’s dark gaze. The sixth-year doesn’t say anything directly to the blond, but even as his attention moves again to encompass all the first-years, there’s no real doubt who his next words are aimed at.
“Discrimination will not be tolerated here,” Ody informs them calmly. “If I or my fellow prefects catch you, you will be punished accordingly. Slytherin House does not need those who feel they must criticize others for their lineage at every turn just to prove their superiority. When you are better, you will have nothing to prove because everyone will know it. Is that clear?”
Harry isn’t the only one who automatically nods. Ody just… has a commanding aura about him that demands an answer without ever actually demanding anything.
He likes that though, what this implies. He already had an inkling – after meeting Malfoy that very first time – that parts of the Wizarding world didn’t look too kindly on people with muggle backgrounds, but he was too excited about magic to really think about it back then. Even now, he only has a general idea, and he resolves to find out more, maybe ask Ody later if there really aren’t any books in the library that will explain things to him.
But, he likes this. This idea that effort actually matters. Harry remembers the Dursleys and how no matter how much effort he put into anything, it was never enough or it was too much and it made Dudley look bad. Either way, it always got him in trouble.
Here though, in Slytherin, if he’s allowed to put in the effort and do his best, expected even, then… yes, Harry does think he’ll enjoy his time here, and not just because of the magic. Not once in his life has he ever had the freedom to do his best and be proud of it.
“Alright then,” At a glance from Ody, Gemma steps forward again, speaking more briskly this time. “To wrap things up, our Head of House is Professor Severus Snape. You’ll see him tomorrow when he comes by during breakfast to hand out timetables. He teaches Potions at Hogwarts and is very strict. Pay attention in his classes, follow instructions, and you’ll be fine.” She pauses. “I think that’s about it. It’s getting late, and I’m sure you must be tired. Your curfew is at ten every night, and you’re all expected to be in bed by that time. Breakfast is served starting at seven in the morning and lasts until around eight-forty-five. Classes begin at nine so don’t be late. When you go to your respective dorms, you’ll each find a map on your bedside table that will help you navigate the castle until you remember your way around. Introduce yourselves to your roommates, unpack, and then you’d best get an early night’s sleep.”
And that’s it. Claudia calls for the girls, and they shuffle off after her, obediently following her down a flight of stairs on the far left of the common room.
“I’ll take the rest of you,” Ody beckons lazily before heading off towards another set of stairs on the right. “Come along.”
The stone steps wind down and into a hall that gently slopes even further down the deeper in they go before curving around and doubling back, and Harry soon realizes that the corridors are layered on top of each other at a slant, except instead of stairs at the end of each hall, it’s just a slope. The floor is carpeted with dark green, and torches light the way, making shadows flicker against the walls.
Harry stares at the fire as they walk. He’s always liked the warmth of it.
“Each room fits three people,” Ody calls back as he finally comes to a stop on the third floor down. “And you’ll be roommates for the rest of your school career so I suggest picking people you can stand to live with ten months of the year.”
Harry immediately turns to Blaise, who – much to his relief – hasn’t changed his mind about rooming together because the other boy turns to him too. And then he jerks his chin to another boy who’s standing alone on the side, expression shuttered.
“Theodore Nott,” Blaise mutters even as he ushers Harry over there, both of them determinedly not looking anywhere in Malfoy’s direction just in case they accidentally make eye contact. “He’s not bad.”
“Nott,” Blaise greets curtly once they’re within a foot of each other.
Nott stares back warily at both of them. “Zabini.” A noticeable pause. “Potter.”
Harry, feeling foolish but wanting to do something more than nod awkwardly, volleys back, “Nott.”
Which sounds just as ridiculous as saying nothing at all in his opinion but the other two don’t seem to find it odd so Harry tries to take it in stride.
“Shall we?” Blaise gestures at a nearby wooden door, and with one more round of guarded looks between them, they trek into the chosen dorm room.
The room is decorated in greens with silver accents. There are three four-posters, three chairs, three desks, three wardrobes, and a bathroom in one corner. There’s also a window, and Harry ends up peering through the glass with fascination as a school of fish swim by.
“Guess you’ll be taking the window spot,” Blaise says, and Harry almost backpedals and apologizes for his presumption, but the other boy just sounds amused as he makes his way to the bed on Harry’s left, and Theo is already unknotting his tie over by the bed on the right.
Like magic, because it is magic, their trunks appear at the foot of their bed as soon as they sit down. Harry’s owl cage is empty but he remembers Ody telling him about house-elves and how they make sure all the owls make it safely into the Owlery.
He kicks off his shoes and socks and wriggles his toes in the plush green carpet at his bedside. And then he stops when a knock sounds, and Ody peers inside.
“Settling in alright?”
“Yes, Odysseus,” Blaise calls from where he’s halfway through organizing his desk.
Ody glances at Nott, who nods stiffly, and then finally at Harry, who smiles shyly and nods too. Ody smiles back, kind in a way that Harry still isn’t used to at all.
“Right then,” Ody straightens, half-turning to leave. “I’m one floor up, first door on the left. Don’t hesitate to come to me if you need anything. Sleep well, and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Later, when Harry is curled up in bed under blankets thicker and cleaner and fluffier than anything he’s ever owned, in a room that’s more lavish than he’s ever been able to sleep in, he thinks about the rollercoaster turn his life has taken over the past several weeks.
A part of him still can’t believe it, that all this is real.
He keeps his bed curtains open just enough to see the ethereal glow of the lake through the window, and he stares until his eyelids grow heavy and slumber washes over him.
He sleeps better that night than he ever has before.