“C’mon Prongs, we haven’t got all week to hang around the Prefects compartment trying to stalk Evans!” Sirius Black’s voice echoed down the corridors of the Hogwarts Express, and many faces inside nearby compartments emerged, grinning.
“All right, all right,” James Potter pushed his glasses further up his nose and appeared beside Sirius, “Shout a bit louder mate, I don’t think people 50 miles away quite caught that. And anyway...I was just trying to talk to Moony.”
“A likely story.”
He continued down the corridor, James close behind, peering into compartments.
“Hey, look, Pads,” James elbowed Sirius and pointed into the nearest compartment, where the familiar faces of Dorcas Meadowes and Marlene McKinnon were buried in their books.
“Alright, ladies?” Sirius smouldered, attempting to lean on the compartment door smoothly but toppling slightly in his efforts. He regained his balance, and flicked his thick, dark hair out of his face. Marlene rolled her eyes.
“Fine thanks. What do you two want?” her eyes shifted onto James and narrowed, “Lily’s not here, she’s with the Prefects.”
“Hey!” James yelped, pretending to look hurt, “Why do you always assume I’m here because of Evans?”
“Because you always are
,” Dorcas pointed out, before returning to her book.
“Well,” said Sirius, “No other compartments are free, so you’ll have to put up with us for the journey. Only a few hours or so. No point complaining.”
He dumped his trunk onto the luggage rack above Dorcas’ head and sank into the empty seat beside Marlene, produced a large bottle of Butterbeer and took a long swig, and then offered it to her. She gave him a disdainful look and turned her head away to stare out the window.
James lingered awkwardly in the doorway a little longer, messing his hair up, until he finally seemed to abandon the idea of going to look for Lily and sat down beside Dorcas.
“Why the long face, Marls? Like I said, you’ll only have to put up with me for a few hours.”
“If it is any longer than a few hours, then I will have to poison your drink, Black.”
“Oh believe me beautiful, if I had to endure your crap for longer than a few hours then I would happily drink it.”
James snorted and Marlene fixed him with a steely glare. He quickly averted his eyes and began humming, staring casually at the ceiling of the compartment. Then as Marlene narrowed her eyes at him too, he coughed and quickly changed the subject.
“So, Dorcas, good summer?”
Dorcas looked up, her wide brown eyes blinking, as if surprised someone had addressed her.
“Yeah, it was alright, I suppose,” she shrugged, “Mum’s really worried about this You Know Who stuff, though. Dad had to persuade her to let me come back to Hogwarts this year.”
James shuddered. “Scary stuff, this war.”
“Please,” Sirius scoffed, resting his feet on the opposite seat and folding his arms behind his head, “If the pathetic worm that I must unfortunately refer to as my brother wants to join these Death Eaters then they can’t be half as scary as they’re made out to be. Us Marauders, we could manage them, no trouble.”
Marlene arched her eyebrows. “Glad to see you’re not letting your education get in the way of your ignorance, Black.”
“Really, McKinnon, I would like to see things from your point of view, but I sincerely doubt I would be able to get my head that far up your arse.”
“Least I’m not as thick as you are.”
“I’m blonde, what’s your excuse?” she retorted defiantly.
“Who needs brains when you’re this good looking?”
“That’s enough!” In the midst of the arguing, Dorcas had put down her book and pulled out her wand, “Because I’m not afraid to jinx both of your mouths shut if you don’t be queit.”
“Merlin, Meadowes, hold your hippogriffs!”
“Listen, Black, I’m trying to read.
“Oooh, I apologise.”
“Anyway,” James piped up hopefully, “When are Evans and Moony gonna be back?”
“Any minute now, should be.” Dorcas glanced up at the clock.
“Speaking of which,” Marlene cut in, “Where’s Mary?”
“And Wormtail, come to think of it,” Sirius added.
“Probably got lost, stupid arse,” James shrugged.
But he stopped there because Lily Evans had just walked into the compartment, her dark red hair hanging down by her waist, her green eyes flashing as they fell upon James, glasses askew, hair a mess, mouth hanging half open.
“What the hell is he doing here?” she snarled, wheeling round to snap at Marlene.
“I’ve been asking myself the same question, to tell you the truth.”
“Nice to see you too, Evans.”
“Be queit Black.”
She rounded on James, “Will you ever
leave me alone?”
“You’ve got to give him credit for his persistence,” Sirius told her seriously.
“You are so
irritating, James Potter.”
“Not a very nice way to address your future husband now, is it?” James said innocently.
Lily made a noise of annoyance.
“Was that a growl
, Evans? Merlin, you’re hot when you’re angry.”
Lily opened her mouth to retort, but closed it again as the compartment door slid open, and Remus walked in, Prefect badge shining on his black robes, closely followed by Mary MacDonald and Peter.
“Ah, there you are!” Sirius said and gave him a one armed hug, as Remus took the place beside him.
“Good to see you too,” Remus laughed, “Good summer, I’m taking it?”
“On the contrary,” Sirius replied, sitting back down as Remus took his place beside James, “You try living with my mother and that wretched house elf, then you’ll know what real suffering is. I’m starting to think I’d rather have your furry little problem to deal with.”
Marlene and Dorcas exchanged puzzled looks, whilst Lily looked far too angry to have picked up on anything strange. She was muttering under her breath, most likely planning the most effective ways in which to murder James Potter in his sleep.
Remus gave a shaky laugh, and made a face to signal a change of subject.
“Anyway...” James said very conspicuously, “Shouldn’t you two be patrolling the corridors, giving innocent little first years lines or something?”
“Something tells me that is not
the objective of a Prefect, Potter,” Lily snapped, having seemingly decided she had spent enough time staring at James in fury.
“Well, I’d be happy to join you in the Prefect’s bathroom any time you want, Evans,” James said with a lopsided grin, “Perhaps you can show me there all about being a Prefect.”
“Ugh,” Dorcas buried her head in her hands, “The mental images, Potter...”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Lily said huffily, her nose in the air.
“Is that a Tornadoes
“And if it is, Black?”
“Well, they’re notoriously
crap, aren’t they, haven’t won the league for...”
Remus sighed heavily. “Game of Exploding Snap, anyone?”
“Yeah, I’ll play,” Dorcas piped up, clearly keen to not be included in any further arguments.
“Me too,” said Lily.
“And me,” James said hastily, completely unabashed by the annoyed look Lily threw him.
“Thank god that’s over,” Marlene sighed as the scarlet engine drew to a halt at Hogsmeade station. She yanked her trunk down from the luggage rack, deliberately whacking Sirius on the head with it as she swung around.
“Hey!” he rubbed his head angrily and pouted up at her.
“If that’s meant to be hot, Black, Merlin forbid what you must look like when you’re trying to be pathetic. Come on, girls.”
Dorcas hurriedly followed her out of the compartment ,stuffing her book back into her bag as she went, but as Lily was leaving she whipped round and caught James’ eye. Then, shaking her head as if she knew something he didn’t, she was gone.
Mary gave an absent minded wave to the boys and then left closely behind her.
James tousled his hair. “That girl,” he sighed, “Is gonna be the death of me one of these days.”
“Maybe you should just...y’know...leave her alone for a bit?” Remus suggested.
“That wouldn’t be any fun, now, would it?” Sirius said, passing James his trunk and getting his own down. “C’mon then, or we’re gonna miss the carriages.”
“Wow, Wormtail, you’ve sunk to whole new levels,” Sirius laughed as Peter rambled about who he’d made friends with this summer, and they climbed into the nearest carriage, “Hanging out with Hufflepuffs...”
“And what exactly is wrong with Hufflepuffs, Black?” came a sharp but slightly amused voice from behind them.
“Mel!” James looked up and grinned. Amelia Bones, a square jawed and stern looking Hufflepuff seventh year was approaching with her friend Alice.
“How are you, Amelia,” Black asked, shaking her hand.
“I’m alright,” Amelia said importantly, “Alice here is better though. She got Head Girl!”
“Brilliant! Can’t say it’s ever a job I’d aspire to myself, but still...” James said, and Sirius chuckled appreciatively.
“I’ll see you later, alright, Potter? Don’t go causing too much trouble. I’ve got to go and see Professor Sprout.” She gave a short wave and left.
“She’s never really struck me as someone you’d be friends with, Prongs,” Sirius said as the carriage began making its way up to the castle, “A bit too...sensible, surely?”
“Nah, my parents have known hers for years. Her brother Edgar is hilarious. She’s a brilliant witch, though. Kind of makes up for the whole sensible thing. Really ambitious...wants to go into the Magical Law Enforcement Department when she’s older. Bet she will, as well.”
“What d’you reckon we’ll be doing when we’re older, Prongs?” Sirius pondered, “I don’t suppose we’ll get away with messing about for the rest of our lives.”
“Is it me or are you two actually having a serious conversation for once?” Remus asked, raising his eyebrows.
James shrugged. “Well, I can take things seriously. I just choose not to.”
They were queit for a while until Hogwarts appeared, fully in view, the lights twinkling. “Ah,” Sirius said, lying back in the carriage seat, “We’re finally home.”
“How are they so small
, Prongs? I mean, is that even possible?” Sirius stared down the table as the last of the new Gryffindor first years joined them.
“Speak a bit quieter,
Pads, you’re scaring them.”
“Who cares? Little squirts.”
Remus rolled his eyes but said nothing. He was looking towards the Top Table. “Professor Kettleburn has lost the other leg,” he said, shaking his head, “Shouldn’t he have retired by now?”
Let’s have a look,” James scooted further along the bench and looked around Sirius’ head, “Blimey, he has as well. Wonder what mangy creature chewed it off this time? Unless there’s something you’re not telling us, Moony?”
Remus chuckled. “Nope. Look, it’s time for Dumbledore’s speech.”
“Excellent,” Sirius wheeled around to look, “This means there can’t be long until the feast. I’m bloody starving.”
Albus Dumbledore was on his feet. “Welcome!” he boomed across the Great Hall, “To another year at Hogwarts, and may it be just as eventful as the last!”
“Which wasn’t very,” James muttered darkly to Sirius, “Unless you count all the fun times jinxing Snivellus’ sorry arse...”
“Now, may the feast begin!”
Once the silver plates and goblets had been filled with mountains of delicious food and pumpkin juice, the noise in the Great Hall dimmed significantly as everyone tucked in. As Sirius, Remus and Peter busied themselves with the food, James had the chance to sneak a few glances down the table at Lily, whose long red hair was hanging like a curtain so he couldn’t see her face. He sighed and turned back to his food, disappointed.
When everyone thought that they had eaten all that they could find the capacity to eat, the plates refilled with the familiar desserts they had all grown to love. Helping himself to a large slice of treacle tart, James grinned appreciatively as he saw Lily do exactly the same further down the table.
“Oi, leave some for everyone else!” Sirius protested, ladling large amounts of trifle onto his own plate.
Once every plate on every house table had been scraped clean, the Great Hall filled with the enormous din of everyone catching up after the summer. James, however, leaned back and put his hands behind his head, peering over at the Slytherin table.
“There’s old Snivellus,” he sneered, “Staring
at her, the slimy little git...Every year, I hope he won’t turn up, and yet every year, he has to show his greasy face...”
“James, will you give it a rest? At least for one day,” Remus sighed heavily.
“No,” James replied indignantly, “No, did you see the way he was looking at her?”
“Hey, that Ravenclaw girl over there’s hot, isn’t she?” Sirius cut in absently.
“Which one?” James peered round Peter, who was still eating, to get a closer look.
“The one with the long blonde hair, sitting near Hestia Jones.”
“I’d leave her alone, if I were you. Her dad was killed off by some Death Eaters last week- I saw it in the Prophet,” Remus said grimly.
“Yeah, better luck next time, Pads, she looks like she might come with more than a little baggage,” James commented, as they watched her promptly burst into tears.
“It’s not a joking matter!” Remus said disapprovingly.
Albus Dumbledore stood up again. “Well, that concludes our start of term feast. And what an excellent one it has been! Now, before you all go off to bed- as it is getting rather late- I have just a few start of term notices. The Forbidden Forest, hence the name, remains, as it always has been, forbidden. For those of you sixth years who seem to take troublemaking to the next level each and every year, I would advise you stay away from it unless you would like to be chased away, and undoubtedly put in detention, by Mr Filch, and rightly so, of course.”
He paused for an indulgent smile, and James and Sirius exchanged glances.
“On the topic of Mr Filch, as of every year, he wishes for me to remind you that a list of everything he has forbidden is taped to his office door. I urge you to read it yourselves, because although my brain is admittedly large, I don’t think even I could memorise that many items. Hopefuls for the Quidditch teams this year should address the new Captains, and or Madam Hooch.”
James pointed proudly at the Quidditch Captain badge shining on his robes, and flashed it around to make sure all the Gryffindors could see. Remus shook his head and further down the table, Lily Evans made a noise of distaste.
“And that concludes our feast for tonight, and I believe it is time for us all to retire. First years, the Prefects will help you find your way to the dorms.”
“Right, I’ve got to go,” Remus muttered, and then called over the din, “First years! First years this way!”
James, Sirius and Peter watched him go through the sea of tiny first years swarming around.
“Well then,” Sirius clapped James and Peter on the back, “We better get going. Prongs needs his rest before another day of chasing Evans to no avail.”