I watched as Marlene left the compartment, quickly followed by Mary and Lily, her swish of long red hair leaving a slight scent of strawberries on the air. Dorcas lingered a little longer, stuffing her book into her trunk and giving Remus a quick glance before she left.
I ran my hand through my hair absentmindedly, feeling a little bit dizzy. “That girl,” I sighed, “is gonna be the death of me.”
“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 me my trunk and getting his own down. “C’mon then, or we’re gonna miss the carriages.”
It was cold outside, but the platform was so crowded with people packed closely together, it seemed almost warm in our black Hogwarts robes, which we’d changed into at the last minute on the train.
“So, where were you when we were all on the train and you and Mary turned up late then?” Sirius asked Peter, “Please don’t tell me you got off with her, because frankly, there would be nothing that could disgust me more. Macdonald might be a bit ditzy, but she can sure as hell do better than you, Wormtail. Plus, I dated her in third year, which would mean her standards have dropped enormously.”
Peter looked confused for a moment, not quick witted enough to realise he was being insulted, and then said, “I was with some Hufflepuff fifth years. I got lost and I couldn’t find you so I just gave up. Plus they had food.”
“Wow Wormtail, you’ve sunk to whole new levels,” I commented with a grin, and Sirius gave an appreciative chuckle as we climbed into the nearest carriage waiting, “Hanging out with Hufflepuffs...”
“And what exactly is wrong with Hufflepuffs, Potter?” a sharp but amused voice came from behind us.
“Amelia!” I grinned as the familiar square jawed, stern-looking face of family friend and seventh year Amelia Bones smiled up at me cheerfully, “Care to join us? There’s plenty of room.”
Amelia, closely followed by Alice, climbed up into our carriage and squashed up between Wormtail and Sirius.
“How are you, Amelia?” Sirius asked as politely as he could manage. He knew Amelia wouldn’t take any of his shit that was for sure.
“I’m alright,” Amelia said, sounding important, “Alice here is better though. She got Head Girl!”
“That’s brilliant! Well done, Alice,” I said cheerfully, “Can’t say it’s ever been a job I aspire to myself, but still...”
“What jobs do you actually aspire to, Potter?” Amelia said scornfully, “From what your mother told mine, you like to waste as much time as possible causing trouble and doing nothing!”
“Got it in one,” Remus replied grimly, but even he couldn’t help but spare a small grin.
As the carriage drew to a halt and we began to climb out, Amelia turned around offered me her hand to shake. “I’ll see you around, alright, Potter? I’ll be watching you- don’t go causing too much trouble, or I’ll set Alice here on you. I’ve got to go and see Professor Sprout before the Sorting ceremony.” She gave a short nod to Sirius, Remus and Peter and then left.
Alice gave us all her typical sweet smile. “Nice to see you guys,” she said, “But I better go and find Frank, he’s Head Boy too you see...”
She wandered off to find him.
“Amelia’s never struck me as someone you’d be friends with, Prongs,” Remus commented as we continued to follow the steady stream of people through to the Entrance Hall, “A bit too sensible, surely...”
“Nah, my parents have known her for years,” I told him as we passed Nearly Headless Nick, who gave Sirius a scared look and floated off in the opposite direction, by which Peter seemed to be greatly amused (last year Sirius had managed to trick Nearly Headless Nick into thinking he was to be part of our History of Magic lesson and have him re-enact his entire execution, which caused complete and utter havoc), “Her brother Edgar is hilarious, and you see that fourth year Gryffindor over there? That’s Lizzie, her little sister. She really is a brilliant witch, though and she can be a good laugh sometimes, kind of makes up for the whole sensible thing. Plus my mum reckons she’s a good influence on me.”
“How come?” Peter asked, catching up with us again after he’d been caught up in the crowds entering the Great Hall, where the sky twinkled black and silver above us.
“She’s really ambitious,” I explained, as we sat down at the Gryffindor table, which wasn’t quite full yet, “Wants to go into the Law Enforcement department at the Ministry, you see. I think Mum’s kind of hoping it’ll rub off on me. Reckon she asked her to keep an eye on me this year, to be honest. Not that it’s gonna make any difference.”
“What d’you reckon we’re gonna be when we’re older, Prongs?” Sirius pondered, sounding almost serious for a second, “I don’t suppose we’ll get away with pissing about all our lives.”
“Don’t see why not,” I shrug, with a grin, “We really are rather excellent at it.”
“Is it me or were you two finally having a sensible conversation for once, until you went and ruined it?” Remus laughed.
“I can take things seriously,” I said honestly, “I just choose not to. Couldn’t think of anything more boring, to be honest.”
The heads of the whole Hall turned as the first years were led in by Hagrid, and we were distracted by the Sorting ceremony for a while.
“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,” Remus hissed, but a couple of first years down the table were already staring at us, looking mildly terrified.
“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,” I scooted up, 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.”
Dumbledore was on his feet. “I’m very happy to greet you all at the beginning of another year at Hogwarts, which I hope will be just as eventful as the last!”
“Which wasn’t very,” I muttered darkly to Sirius, “Unless you count all the fun times jinxing Snivellus’ sorry arse...”
“Well I won’t keep you from your food any longer,” Dumbledore continued, “So let the feast begin!”
I watched expectantly as the silver plates and goblets filled with mountains of glorious food and drink, as they always did. The welcome feast was always the best by far. As Sirius, Remus and Peter busied themselves with their food, I took the opportunity to look down the table where Lily was sat with Marlene, Mary and Dorcas. Her long hair was hanging over her face like a curtain, shielding it from view. I sighed, disappointed. I wasn’t quite sure what I had been expected to happen- perhaps to get a glimpse of her perfect face, or maybe even receive a furtive glance in return to let me know that she really did want me, she was just hiding it. I returned to my food regardless.
When we all thought we had eaten as much as were humanly possible, the plates refilled with delicious desserts which were really quite irresistible. I helped myself to a large slice of treacle tart, and chancing another glance at Lily, was satisfied to see her doing exactly the same. We were just made for eachother, clearly.
“Oi, leave some for everyone else!” Sirius said, awakening me from my Lily-daydream, as he ladled ludicrous amounts of trifle onto his own plate.
Once every plate in the Hall had been scraped entirely clean, the din rose even more, as everyone began catching up again- it had been a long time since we’d seen eachother. I leaned back, satisfied, and let my gaze stray to the opposite end of the Hall, where the Slytherins sat.
Then I caught sight of him. His greasy black hair, his hooked nose...he was almost impossible to miss, as he sneered to his disgusting friends about something. It wouldn’t surprise me if he was a Death Eater too. If my darling brother was pathetic enough to join the club, then surely Snivellus would be a reigning member.
“There’s old Snivellus,” I sneered to the others, “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, give it a rest,” Remus sighed, “At least just for today.”
“No,” I replied indignantly, “No, do you see the way he looks at her?”
“Why must every conversation turn to Evans, Prongs?” Sirius rolled his eyes, “Can’t you just get over her and pick some girl who’ll actually have you?”
“It’ll be no mean feat finding one,” Remus smirked, “Considering he’s such a bigheaded idiot ninety percent of the time.”
“Hey, that Ravenclaw over there is hot isn’t she?” Sirius cut in absently.
“Which one?” I asked, leaning around Peter to get a good look at the Ravenclaw table. I couldn’t see any fit girls- most of them already had their noses buried in books, or were discussing what their timetable would be this year.
“The one with long blonde hair, sitting next to Hestia Jones.”
I scanned the table and couldn’t see the dark hair of Hestia Jones anywhere. “Where?”
“On the end! There!
“Oh, her,” my eyes fell on the girl he was talking about, who was clearly deep in intense discussion with the boy opposite her. She was pretty, but she wasn’t anything compared to Evans. Besides, she looked incredibly miserable.“Nah, she’s not really my type.”
“No one’s your type,” Sirius scoffed, “You need to get over Evans, mate. She’s never gonna go out with you. Besides, we’re young- you should be having fun like me, not pining over stupid girls who have been rejecting you since first year.”
We all watched the blonde girl over at the Ravenclaw table for a while. “How old do you reckon she is?” Sirius added, “Might ask her out, actually. No one can resist the charms of Sirius Black.”
“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 look next time, Pads,” I said, clapping him on the shoulder as the girl promptly burst into tears, the boy opposite her patting her on the back sympathetically, “She looks like she might come with more than a little baggage.”
“It’s not a joking matter!” Remus frowned at me across the table disapprovingly but before he could say anymore, Albus Dumbledore stood up and the hall fell silent again.
“Alas,” he said, wringing his hands together, “Our start of term feast is over already- how time flies when you’re having fun! Now, whilst I would happily stay up all night and-what do you kids call it these days?- party-
Professor McGonagall does insist that I send you to bed. Not before a few announcements first, though! The Forbbiden Forest, hence the name, remains, as it always has been, forbidden to anyone and everyone from all year groups. Professor Filch does well to remind me that anyone who ignores this rule will, indeed, be punished severely.”
He allowed himself an indulgent smile, and I could have sworn his eyes flickered slightly over to myself and Sirius, who was grinning.
“For those of you sixth years who seem to take the term mischief to the next level each and every year, and you know who you are, I would advise you stay away from the forest, as you will undoubtedly be serving a few detentions if you are caught.”
Definitely talking about us then. I exchanged a quick glance with Padfoot, who winked, but beside him, Remus was doing his best to look stern.
“Whilst we are still lingering on the topic of Mr Filch, he wishes me to remind you that an extensive list of banned objects is taped to his door. Those select sixth years ought to remember that, also. I urge you to read it yourselves, as although my brain is admittedly larger than most, I don’t think I could ever memorise so many items! And finally, hopefuls for the House Quidditch teams, excluding first years, should see the new Captains, and or Madame Silverbirch, our new Head of Sports at Hogwarts.”
A few heads along the Gryffindor table turned to look at me, to which I took the opportunity to flash my Quidditch badge in as many directions as possible. Remus shook his head and my heart sank as Evans made a face at me. I quickly looked down at the table as if nothing had happened.
” I could hear her whisper to Marlene, who nodded and joined her in throwing daggers at me with her eyes. Girls. I really don’t understand them sometimes.
“I believe it is all time for us to retire to our warm and comfortable beds, which no doubt are waiting for us,” Dumbledore continued, “First years, please locate your house Prefects and they will show you to your common rooms and respective dormitories.”
There was a smattering of applause as Dumbledore sat down, and Remus jumped up hastily. “Right, I’ve got to go.”
And he strayed further down the table, desperately yelling over the din, “First years! First years, this way!”
I watched him go through the hoarde of first years, and noticed with a pang of jealousy that Lily was right behind him.
“Well then,” Sirius said, climbing lazily to his feet and flicking his hair. I noticed a small gaggle of third years staring at him from down the table, giggling. From the familiar look on his face, I knew he had noticed them too, “We better get going. After all, Prongs needs a rest before a long day of chasing Evans to no avail.”