Chapter 1 : The Slytherin Challenge
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Ever since the Slytherin house had been in existence there had been the secret competition. The competition took place every year during the last full moon before school let out and all the seventh years graduated. It was held at midnight in the deepest, darkest dungeon of Hogwarts and only seventh year students were allowed to compete. They had to compete, whether they wanted to or not, for every Slytherin student who had ever lived had competed.
All of the lower years were sent to bed by the Student Head of House at a quarter to twelve. The seventh years waited in the common room, fully dressed with their wands in their pockets, until the stroke of midnight. The Head of House opened the portrait on the twelfth stroke and led the group down. The hallways were without candles or torches and were eerily silent as the students followed their trusted professor. As they traveled deeper and deeper into the castle the halls became cold and the students’ breath became visible. The students kept in a tight group, trying to hide their fear from one another. Not one among their solemn group had any clues of what was to come, for every alumni who had ever partook in this event was sworn to secrecy.
At last they stopped at the very end of the hall, the ground had ceased to be covered with bricks and was now no more than dirt. The doorway in front of them was flanked on either side by flaming torches. The door was large and strong. It was made entirely of steel and bore the Slytherin coat of arms; it had no locks or handles and would never budge without the key. The key was a sacred oath passed down from Salazar himself and had to be spoken in the strange tongue of the snakes, only then would the door slowly open, silent as a ghost.
The room that lay in front of the students was completely dark. None of the light from the torches penetrated past the edge of the door. The Head of House stood at the threshold, not quite entering the room, and he spoke slowly, “Once you enter into this room, you may not exit until the competition is over.” The students gathered around in a half circle said nothing to this, they did not respond in any way, they knew it was expected of them.
All of their parents were Slytherin alumni and would disown anyone of them if they did not enter into the competition. With a wave of his hand the Head of House motioned the students into the room, his feet staying firmly planted in the hallway, “Instructions will be given to you once you enter.” There was a moment’s hesitation before the Student Head of House stepped into the large circular room, his classmates followed with not a word being spoken. As the last student’s feet passed over into the room the doors slid shut, again in complete silence. When they were secure and the lock had been put it place with a soft click, a large green ring of fire rose up from the floor and then settled down. When it was no more than a half a foot off the ground small circular stands became visible, one stand for each student, each with their name engraved in it. The students filed along and stood atop their stand, when each student was in place the flames rose again and a cold voice could be heard,
“Slytherins. My dear, beloved Slytherins, it is now, in this room, that you will each prove whether you are a Slytherin or not.”
The voice had an evil cackle as it pronounced “Slytherin.” At once, when it had finished a last stand became clear in the center of the room, the fire around it burned as red as the sun and immediately it became clear that each student would stand there in turn and face what evil awaited.
The Student Head of House went first, as was indicated by the red vein leading from his stand to the center one through the stone floor. He walked slowly across the vein and stepped softly onto the stand, it seemed higher than the rest. The room filled with smoke, and the fire burned lower, limiting the light. The student head of house felt a cold draft pass over his body and a thin bony finger slide down his cheek, it sent a chill up his spine. He reached for his wand, but it was too late, and the thing took him by the throat, cutting off his air supply and raising him off the ground. He could hear the raspy voice again in his ear, “You cannot be a Slytherin. You are weak.” The student, grasping for breath, finally felt his fingers brush against his wand, he closed down as tight as he could, and brought it up into the creatures chest. Using up the last of his breath he cast, “Vinidicium!” The words were forced out of his mouth. The creature stumbled backwards, affected as if the student had cast a tickling charm and not the most powerful repellent known. It’s head raised and it’s blood shot, empty eyes stared into the student. It ran full force towards him. The student cast again, “Vinidicium!” Louder this time with more conviction. It had no effect and the creature pummeled into him, knocking him unconscious.
The smoke cleared and the creature vanished. The vein shifted to a student on the other side of the chamber and wearily the student followed it to the center podium. Fog covered the room and the student lashed around, expecting the same creature to take hold of her that took hold of her classmate. Instead the fog was broken by the flames of a dragon. The flames leapt at the girl’s face and hair, soon turning her whole body ablaze. The other students wanted to help but feared leaving their stands. The girl cried in agony and moaned a freezing charm just in time. Without looking, she cast a stunning charm in the direction of where the flames had come from. The charm caught the dragon on the side of it’s spiked hood. It swung its tail in retaliation and anger, knocking another student unconscious.
And so it went, on and on, the students who survived one task, were challenged with another, each more dangerous. In the end there were only two, both battered and bleeding. The veins connected the two podiums, and the voice spoke again, “The one left standing will be rewarded in ways he cannot imagine.” They took out their wands and bowed gracefully, nervously, before beginning their duel. Curse after curse was used, one Slytherin against another. Charms were cast and broken. Spells were hurled and repelled. Finally though one particularly painful curse got through which ended the nightmare. The center podium was emersed in light and the one left standing, the house Quidditch captain, stepped up onto it. “You are the one. The one who fights without fear or reservation. You are the one worthy of my eternal mark.” Fire engulfed the student when the voice had finished, and when it subsided the student was left, his cloak ripped and singed, with a large, twisting snake tattooed across his now bare back.
The locks clicked and the steel door swung open, smoke billowing into the corridor. At first the Head of House thought he had not trained his students well enough for none had survived. He caught sight of the Quidditch captain though, standing proudly upon the center podium, the unconscious bodies of his classmates surrounding the floor around him. The Head of House stepped into the chamber to embrace the victor. As he did so the others began to be revived. Each one starring in turn at their classmate who had won. When finally they had all re-awoken the Student Head of House walked with bowed head to the center podium and kissed the hem of the Quidditch captain’s robes. Each student in turned followed the student head of house’s lead, and when they were done their Head of House spoke, “You are now all truly Slytherins. Speak not of this ritual, for if you do, death shall find you quickly. Now come, and lead your fellow Slytherins so that they may see the way, as you have here today.”
The Head of House led the group out of the chamber and into the now brightly lit hallway. As the last student exited the chamber, the doors closed behind him and locked for another year. The students could see now the walls of the corridors they walked, they were lined with hanging remains. Remains of those enemies of Slytherin who had been unfortunate enough to be caught and killed. Blood stained the stones. Not the blood of enemies, but the blood of students, like themselves, who had passed the challenge centuries ago, and left their mark forever on the castle as they stumbled back through the hallways to their common room, broken down to nothing and raised again.
As they climbed through the portrait hole, they could see their younger classmates formed up silently around them. The Head of House climbed in last and stood in between the seventh years and the rest of the students, “These students have proven themselves true Slytherins. Learn from them, so that one day you may walk the walk that they did and enter into the Order of Salazar as well.” No one said anything as the seventh years walked slowly to their rooms, the younger students parting to let them pass in reverence.
These seventh years are now, and forever will be, Slytherins. No one and nothing can change that in them, for the blood of Salazar is now in their veins, as it is in the secret chamber, and is most powerful. In a few weeks time these students will graduate from Hogwarts and go out into the world. Never will they turn against one another and never will they reveal the secrets of the Order of Salazar passed on to them, which they will pass on to their children who become Slytherins.
And so the circle continues. The circle of Pride. The circle of Hatred. The circle of Power.