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First Impressions ~ The Marauders by MissLacybee

Format: Novel
Chapters: 34
Word Count: 81,597
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Spoilers, No Warnings

Genres: Fluff, General, Humor, Mystery, Romance, Young Adult
Characters: Dumbledore, Filch, Slughorn, McGonagall, Sprout, Pomfrey, Lupin, Snape, A. Longbottom, F. Longbottom, James, Lily, Sirius, Bellatrix, Fenrir, Lucius, Pettigrew, Regulus, R. Lestrange, Skeeter, OC, OtherCanon
Pairings: Lucius/Narcissa, Andromeda/Ted, Snape/Lily, Sirius/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 03/31/2020
Last Chapter: 06/24/2020
Last Updated: 07/09/2020

Summary:

First-year//Fanfiction// Marauder Era// First in a series//

 

James Potter arrives at Hogwarts, adored by his parents and full of confidence. He could have anyone for a friend... and yet he is instantly drawn to handsome, dark-haired Sirius - a half-rejected member of the 'Noble and Most Ancient House of Black'.

 

Within minutes, the two boys become the closest of friends, roaming around the train together, laughing and eating food without a single care in the world. 

But outside of Hogwarts, a terrible storm is brewing. 

 

Lord Voldemort, the evilest dark wizard to walk the Earth in centuries, is rapidly gaining followers, mercilessly killing, maiming and destroying. 

 

With a battle looming on the horizon, James and Sirius must pull together their friendship, and explore the mysteries surrounding them - where is their friend Remus Lupin going? What is going on with their notoriously forgetful Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor? And how is James going to get Lily Evans to fall head-over-heels in love with him? 

 

 

 



Chapter 1: The Hogwarts Express
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-   Chapter One   -

 

The Hogwarts Express 

 

 

 

"James, be good." Mrs Potter stood back to allow her husband to embrace their son. "If you've forgotten anything, we'll send it on in time for the morning post. But make sure you behave yourself. If I get a single owl telling me you've thrown a dungbomb at a professor or... or turned a fellow student into a tadpole-"

 

James grinned under the cover of the steam pouring from the scarlet steam engine. "Mum, I couldn't turn a student into a tadpole if I tried. Not even if you offered me a year's supply of sundaes from Florean Fortescue's ice-cream parlour."

 

Mr Potter ruffled his son's hair. "But you could give it a good go, right?" he asked, winking at James and shooting a mischievous look at his wife.

 

"Too right, I could. Those ice-creams are the best!" Then, catching his mother's eye, James adopted an innocent expression and added, "It probably wouldn't work, though. Like I said, transfiguring someone into a tadpole wouldn't be something I could manage... At least, not yet, anyway."

 

Mrs Potter sighed and shook her head. But she was smiling. "Oh, James! What am I going to do with you?"

 

"What are you going to do without him, more like," said her husband, though there was a note of sadness in his voice as he looked at James. "He's off to Hogwarts! We won't be seeing him for goodness knows how long."

 

James Potter grinned again. "Exactly! And it's going to be awesome!"

 

The steam engine behind them let out a huge whistle. All around, anxious parents were ushering their children - some with rats, owls, cats or toads - onto the Hogwarts Express.

 

"Well, promise me you'll be good."

 

I can't exactly promise, mum," said James, his eyes now straying over the rest of the platform. "You know I can't. I've got a reputation to create. But I might try to stay out of trouble... If it's worth my while." He ran one hand through his unruly dark hair, knowing fully well that he wasn't going to try and behave at all. 

 

As soon as he got on that train...

 

His father seemed to be thinking along the same lines. "James, you know there are prefects on the Hogwarts Express, right? And they won't be afraid to give you detention if they catch you breaking the rules."

 

"Whatever. You think detentions scare me?" James stopped to take in the effect of this question on his parents. When they said nothing, however, he pressed on, "Nah-ah. Not me. I'm not scared of detentions. I laugh in the face of deten-"

 

The train whistled very loudly. Doors up and down the carriages were being slammed shut.

 

Mrs Potter let out a small shriek. "Quick, James! You'll miss the train!" She gestured frantically to her husband and seized one end of James' school trunk. "Stop dawdling, Fleamont, quickly and help me get James' things into a compartment!"

 

Mr Potter obeyed his wife without another word, hurrying over to a nearby carriage and flinging the door wide open. In a flurry of excitement and steam, James and his trunk were deposited safely on the Hogwarts Express - just in time, too.

 

As the pistons pumped into action and the train began to move, James joined his fellow pupils in waving out of the windows, while his parents and the station moved out of sight.

 

This was it. He was going to Hogwarts.

 

He could barely contain his excitement. For eleven whole years, he had itched to go to the prodigious wizarding school, had ached to explore the huge castle with its teachers and ghosts and its wonderful feel of magic. He had loved nothing better as a child than hearing his father's stories about school... the stories of mayhem and laughter and quidditch.

 

James adored quidditch. True, first-years weren't allowed their own boomsticks (James had been thoroughly disappointed when he'd read this on his acceptance letter), but that hadn't stopped him from begging his father for a new one in 'Quality Quidditch Supplies'. One day, James vowed, he would make the Gryffindor quidditch team - if, that is, he was put into Gryffindor in the first place. But he pushed that worry aside. Of course he would be put in Gryffindor. His whole family had been put in Gryffindor.

 

But God forbid he should be put in Slytherin.

 

He turned around and, seeing that the corridor behind him was empty, dragged his trunk to the nearest compartment. He peered through the door. It was completely full.

 

A group of fourth-year Hufflepuffs all stopped giggling and stared at him.

 

Feeling slightly awkward, James picked up the end of his trunk and decided to move on.

 

The next compartment he tried was also full, this time with a trio of boys, who were playing Exploding Snap, and a girl with long blonde curls, who was using her wand to coil her hair even more. They glanced at James as he passed, but soon lost interest and returned to their activities.

 

The girl flashed him a scornful look.

 

James moved on again, checking the third, fourth and fifth compartments to no avail. At the sixth compartment, however, he stopped. It was empty.

 

"Phew!" He paused beside the door to take a rest and was about to slide it open when a voice behind him made him jump.

 

"Any room in there?" The voice sounded like it belonged to a boy.

 

James whirled around, dropping his trunk on his foot as he did so. "Ouch!"

 

The boy let out a bark-like laugh and pushed his dark hair out of his eyes. He was very good-looking the kind of confident, relaxed good-looking that drew in the attention of everyone in the vicinity. "Sorry," he said, grinning as he folded his arms across his chest. "That must've hurt."

 

James, who was now massaging his foot, looked up at the boy. He grinned back, straightening up and pushing his glasses more securely onto his nose. "Yeah," he said heavily. "It did."

 

The boy pulled a face, then stood on tiptoe to see into the compartment. "So," he said and James noticed that the boy was taller than him. "Is anyone in there? I've been looking for somewhere to sit for ages. I'm Sirius, by the way."

 

"Er... I'm James," James muttered, as the boy leant over him to pull the compartment door open. "And, no. There's no one in there."

 

"Cool." Sirius side-stepped James' trunk, squeezed his own luggage through the gap between James and the wall, and kicked it carelessly through the door. "You're a first-year, too?"

 

"Yeah." Feeling relieved that he'd met someone else in his situation, James followed Sirius into the compartment and shut the door behind him. "How long d'you reckon the journey is?"

 

Sirius grinned at him, crossing one leg over the other as he sat down, talking up half a side of the compartment with his lazy position. "Dunno. Haven't got a clue. Around eight hours or so, I'm guessing."

 

James groaned to himself. "Merlin's beard! That's ages!"

 

"Can't be that long, or students would've died of boredom."

 

"They probably do die of boredom. They probably keel over before the lunch trolley turns up and have their bodies chucked out the window."

 

Sirius snorted. "I wouldn't be surprised. Forget boredom, I'm going to die of hunger."

 

They sat in silence for several minutes until James thought it was right to speak again. "You're not muggleborn, are you?" he asked. Sirius had the distinct air of someone who'd been brought up by wizards. 

 

Looking slightly surprised at the question, Sirius shook his head. "Nope," he said. "I'm pureblood. Everyone in my family is magical. You?"

 

"Same. I couldn't wait to come to Hogwarts. I've been itching to get on this train for years."

 

"Me too." Sirius' face darkened for a moment before returning to normal. He wasn't going to start worrying about his family on his first day at Hogwarts. He wasn't worried, anyway. He was Sirius Black. But he changed the subject nevertheless. "What's your Quidditch team?"

 

James' eyes lit up. Any conversation about Quidditch was one he was always eager to join. "The Wimborne Wasps! They rule!"

 

Sirius looked playfully indignant. "They do not! Puddlemere United are much better."

 

Raising an eyebrow in mock disbelief, James smirked at Sirius. "Oh, yeah?" he asked.

 

"Yeah. They are. You know that they are. Puddlemere United thrashed the pants off the Wasps last season - remember that epic bludger attack?"

 

"Of course I do!" cried James, with real indignation this time. He had, after all, obsessively followed every match on the Wizarding Wireless. "But the Wasps have a great team. That bludger thing was just a one-off slip-up. They're on form, usually."

 

Sirius snorted and pushed his hair off his face. It seemed to keep falling into his eyes, although Sirius clearly didn't care. "Yeah, usually. Not always, like Puddlemere United are. The Wasps let in an absolute ton of goals, last season. And the season before that."

 

"No, they didn't!" protested James. Then he glanced at Sirius's expression. He sighed. "Okay, fine. They weren't so great last season-"

 

"-Or the one before," Sirius reminded him, grinning.

 

James found himself grinning too. "Fine. Or the one before. But they're still pretty damn good, compared to Puddlemere's handful of novices."

 

"Handful of novices?" said Sirius, closing his eyes as if James had mortally offended him. "Excuse me? You can't call such a superb Quidditch team a 'handful of novices'! It should be made illegal. It's disgusting! Puddlemere United are way better than the Wimborne-blasted-Wasps!"

 

"They are not!"

 

"They are!" cried Sirius, standing up and jumping up and down. He pretended to sing. "Beat back those bludgers, boys, and chuck that Quaffle here!"

 

"Argh! My ears!" laughed James, ducking his head to avoid Sirius' 'singing'. "Whatever. Puddlemere United sucks. End of story."

 

"It is not 'end of story'"

 

"Um, yes. It is. It is one hundred per-cent the end of the story."

 

"Fine," said Sirius, but he was grinning. "If you want to be childish-" He sat down and bent over his trunk, unfastening the lid and extracting his school robes from underneath a pile of spellbooks.

 

James grinned back at him and bent over his own trunk. "I am not childish!" He pulled his robes, just as Sirius had done, from the heap of school things. "Time to change, d'you reckon?"

 

"Might as well. We've got a good couple of hours to kill before we get there."

 

James pulled his jumper over his head and lobbed it unceremoniously at the untidy mass of the trunk.

 

Sirius followed suit, tugging on his brand-new robes with a look of restrained delight. He felt like a student. A squeaky-clean, goody-two-shoes, first-year student.

 

Well, he wasn't going to be good for much longer...

 

Sirius was going to play as many pranks as he could over the next seven years, to make up for all the time he'd spent under the restraint of the 'Noble House of Black'.

 

He pulled out his wand. "Want to explore the rest of the train?" he asked James, who was now closing the lid of his trunk.

 

James looked up, surprised. Then his face broke into an expression of mischievous wonder. "You bet! We can find out who the other first-years are..."

 

"...And maybe play some tricks on the students. The older students..."

 

James smirked. "The ones that think they know better..."

 

"...The ones that think they're so cool..."

 

"...But we know they're not," James finished. "C'mon."

 

Sirius rolled up the sleeves of his school robes. "Where's your wand? It might be useful, even if we don't know much magic yet."

 

Standing up, James extracted his wand from his pocket and reached over to slide the compartment door open. "Where first?"

 

Sirius thought about it. Then he had a brainwave. "I know!" he said excitedly, standing up too and leading the way out of the compartment. "We can spy on the prefects' carriage. I bet they think they're high-and-mighty."

 

"Yeah, I bet they do." James followed Sirius out into the corridor. "What are we going to do when we get there? Have you got any dungbombs?"

 

Sirius sighed. "No. My parents would kill me if I even tried to bring them. You?"

 

"Yeah, I've got a couple. I had to smuggle them out under my invisibility cloak, though... And I was kind of saving them for when we got to Hogwarts."

 

An expression of awe crossed Sirius' face. "Hang on, you've got an invisibility cloak?" he asked, gaping at James.

 

James grimaced. "Uh... Well, kind of. It's my dad's, but it'll be mine when he dies. I wasn't really meant to take it to Hogwarts, but..." He grinned sheepishly. "I mean, it's an invisibility cloak, for Merlin's sake! How could I not take it? Anyway, dad probably won't notice and, even if he does, he won't be getting it back." 

 

"Wow..." The impressed smile did not fade from Sirius' features. "Wow, that's awesome! But never mind about the dungbombs. We'll just go and spy on the prefects as we are."

 

"Fair enough," said James, running one hand through his already-messy hair. "Now, let's get going or we won't be back in time for the lunch trolley. I don't want to miss it. I've heard the pumpkin pasties are worth killing for."

 

The two boys set off down the corridor.

 


 

 

A/N: 

 

This chapter was originally much longer and so I apologise for the potentially lame ending. 

 

Also, the chapter was supposed to be called 'Friends, a Prefect and a Couple of Enemies', but it had to be cut short at the 'Friends' part, so I called it 'The Hogwarts Express', instead. The next chapter will probably be named using the original title :) 

 

Feel free to drop me your thoughts in the comments below - thanks for reading! 

 

 



Chapter 2: Friends, Prefects and a Couple of Enemies
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-    Chapter Two   -

 

Friends, Prefects and a Couple of Enemies

 

 

 

 

Glancing left and right as they went, James and Sirius moved along the train, occasionally pausing to peer into compartments as they passed.

 

James spotted the group of giggling Hufflepuffs again and glanced once at the group playing Exploding Snap. But neither Sirius nor him stopped long enough to pay the students much attention.

 

A little further up the corridor, they passed a pair of Slytherin sixth-years, who were cackling nastily at a small, mousey boy with a pointed nose. The boy was clearly a first-year and, as they drew closer, James nudged Sirius in the ribs.

 

"Look. Who's he?"

 

Sirius' dark head whipped around. "Who?" he whispered, his eyes darting fruitlessly around in front of him.

 

"There." James pointed as discreetly as he could in the direction of the small boy. "That first-year. The one with the Slytherins. What do you think he's doing?"

 

Squinting in the direction James was pointing, Sirius studied the boy's face.

 

His forehead creased.

 

He'd never seen the boy before, but the Slytherins were clearly taunting him. Sirius recognised the anguished movements of the boy's hands, the way he looked anywhere except up at his tormentors. "Looks like he's in a state."

 

"What do we do?"

 

Sirius pondered the question. His wand felt heavy in his pockets. They should probably help the boy...

 

"What are you two doing?" A sharp voice echoed around their section of the carriage. "You shouldn't be blocking up the corridors."

 

James and Sirius turned. The girl who had spoken was very tall. And she was clearly older than them. A large bronze letter 'P' sat on a badge emblazoned with the Ravenclaw crest; she was evidently a prefect.

 

James felt his face burn. "Er... We were... We were just..."

 

The prefect raised one eyebrow and looked down at them both, her dark eyes sceptical. "First-years shouldn't be getting up to mischief."

 

Beside James, Sirius spoke up. His voice was bold and cocky, without a hint of alarm. He addressed the girl as if she was his equal or just another speck on the wide horizon of Sirius Black.

 

"Mischief?" he asked, imitating the girl's expression. "We weren't getting up to mischief. Why would first-years like us be involved in mischief, for Merlin's sake?"

 

The girl looked very taken aback. She opened her mouth once to argue, closed it again and stared at Sirius with her eyes wide.

 

Sirius threw her a flirtatious smirk, pushing his hair back for the thousandth time that morning. "I'm Sirius. What's your name?"

 

James had to hand it to him, Sirius was a genius.

 

The prefect was completely bewildered. She gaped at Sirius for a good thirty seconds (James counted), apparently unable to believe what she was seeing.

 

Then she blushed and fiddled with a strand of her dark hair. "Oh... I'm Vivian. Vivian Roberts."

 

Sirius gave her another smile. "Well, it was very nice to meet you, Vivian." He poked James in the side to indicate that they should start backing away. "Hope your day goes well. You have very nice hair, by the way... It's very sleek and- and dark and- and... shiny."

 

Vivian blushed even harder.

 

"See you around." Then Sirius seized a fistful of James' robes and dragged him back down the corridor.

 

They ran as soon as they were out of sight, stumbling past the compartments, both doubled up with silent laughter. When they reached their own compartment, James pulled open the door and collapsed onto his seat.

 

Sirius slumped down next to him, shaking with mirth. "Damn, did you see her face?"

 

James groaned and clutched his stomach. "I can't believe you flirted with her! What the hell? That was... that was blimmin' brilliant!"

 

Sirius looked very obviously pleased with himself. He shook his head a couple of times, steadied his own laughter and leant back with his head against the wall. "Cheers, mate. But did you honestly see her face?"

 

This time, James answered him. "Oh, Merlin, I did! She went so red, it was like she was on fire. And you told her she had nice hair." Unable to control himself, he burst out laughing again and choked, "Nice - blimming - hair!"

 

Sirius let out a roar of appreciative laughter. "I hope we can do that again. Pity we didn't get to rescue that boy, though. Or spy on the rest of the prefects... But maybe someone else'll take on those Slytherins for us."

 

"Yeah," said James, still grinning as he wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes. "I hope we meet that prefect again. She's got the hots for you, mate! Just you wait and see."

 

Just then, the compartment door slid open and a girl with long red hair came in. She had clearly been crying. Her green eyes were teary and pink, and she sniffed as she moved to a seat and sat down opposite them, her face turned to the window.

 

She did not appear to have noticed James or Sirius.

 

"What's up with her?" James murmured to Sirius, as the girl gave a small hiccough and dissolved once more into tears. She wiped her eyes on the sleeve of her cardigan, apparently not in her school robes yet.

 

"Dunno. Maybe her boyfriend ditched her."

 

"D'you think she has a boyfriend?" As miserable as the red-haired girl was, he couldn't help noticing that she was extremely pretty.

 

Maybe she did have a boyfriend... Maybe they should comfort her... Maybe they should-

 

The compartment door slid open again, and both James and Sirius turned around.

 

The girl by the window, however, didn't. Her blotchy face was almost touching the glass and James could see her almond-shaped eyes reflected in the rain-washed window.

 

A boy, the same age as the girl - a first-year - had entered, a boy with overlong, slightly greasy black hair and a long, hooked nose. Although he was young, his shoulders looked ever so slightly hunched and his skin was sallow. He had, unlike the girl, already changed into his school robes.

 

James and Sirius exchanged glances.

 

Spotting the girl in the corner, the boy hurried over to her and sat down in the last empty seat. He evidently knew the girl, for she glanced up at him as he sat down, before turning back to the window.

 

"I don't want to talk to you," she said, her voice tight and constricted.

 

The boy looked surprised. "Why not?"

 

The girl hiccoughed again. "Tuney h-hates me. Because we saw that letter from Dumbledore."

 

James, who hadn't particularly been listening before, felt his ears straining. Dumbledore? This girl knew Dumbledore? And who on Earth was 'Tuney'?

 

The boy beside the crying girl gave a small but unmissable shrug. "So what?"

 

"So she's my sister!"

 

"She's only a-" Catching himself just in time, the boy seemed to realise that what he'd been about to say was tactless. Luckily for him, however, the girl was now too busy trying to wipe her eyes without being noticed to hear him. "But this is it. We're off to Hogwarts!"

 

James noticed that the boy seemed just as eager as he and Sirius were at the thought of going to the school.

 

The girl, though her eyes were still red, failed to repress a small smile and the boy, clearly encouraged by the flicker of light, pressed on.

 

"You'd better be in Slytherin."

 

James could not contain himself. He looked around at the pair of them, his eyes full of contempt. "Slytherin? Who wants to be in Slytherin?" He turned and appealed to Sirius. "I think I'd leave, wouldn't you?"

 

But Sirius didn't smile. "My whole family have been in Slytherin," he said, his tone much more sombre than before.

 

James was very surprised by this, but he tried to make light of the situation. "Blimey, and I thought you seemed all right!"

 

A grin spread slowly across Sirius' face. "Maybe I'll break the tradition," he said, hoping very much that this was true. "Where're you heading, if you've got the choice?"

 

As though lifting an invisible sword, James held his arms above his head. "'Gryffindor, where dwell the brave at heart'. Like my dad."

 

The boy next to the crying girl made a small, slightly disdainful noise and a bubble of anger rose in James' throat.

 

"Got a problem with that?"

 

The boy sneered, his lip curling. "No. If you'd rather be brawny than brainy-"

 

Sirius' voice cut across him. "Where're you hoping to go, seeing as you're neither?"

 

James burst out laughing.

 

The girl, her green eyes narrowed, sat up very straight, and glared at James and Sirius with obvious dislike. She got to her feet and the boy followed suit. "Come on, Severus. Let's find another compartment."

 

Sirius nudged James and together they imitated the loftiness of her voice. "Oooooo..."

 

James grinned and stuck out his leg to trip the boy as he passed. "See ya, Snivellus!"

 

The compartment door slammed shut momentarily, before it was opened again by a plump little witch, pushing the food trolley.

 

"Anything from the trolley, dears?"

 

Sirius leapt to his feet, clearly starving. "You bet! Chocolate frogs, James? Pumpkin pasties? Cauldron cakes?"

 

Pulling out his money-bag, which was even fuller than usual as James' parents had paid him to stop him bringing his broomstick to school, James handed Sirius a couple of Galleons. "I'll have whatever. I'm not too fussy. Let's just get some of everything."

 

Sirius grinned. "Sounds good to me," he said, turning to the witch. "We'll take four pumpkin pasties, twenty chocolate frogs, a couple of cauldron cakes..."

 

The witch began to pile the food on an empty patch of seat between them. 

 


 

 

A/N:

Here's the second part of the first chapter, under its original title. I took the dialogue between Snape, Lily and co. from 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' and I wrote it from memory, so I'm sorry if it wasn't entirely accurate.

 

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below! :)

 



Chapter 3: Across the Lake
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-   Chapter Three   -

 

Across the Lake 

 

 

 

"Merlin! I'm stuffed," groaned James, a couple of hours later, putting one protective hand over his stomach and abandoning the remains of his cauldron cake.

 

"Chuck us another frog, would you?" replied Sirius, grinning again. He held out his hand to James and caught the chocolate frog as James threw it to him. He ripped off the wrapper and bit off the frog's head. "Mmmm... Where would we be without chocolate?"

 

"Er, not feeling sick?" said James, who was seriously wishing he hadn't eaten the last pumpkin pasty.

 

"How can you be feeling sick? You ate less than me!"

 

James shrugged. "You must've been starving."

 

"Yeah, I was," Sirius said, swallowing his mouthful of frog and stuffing the rest into his mouth. He chewed, letting the warmth of the chocolate seep over his tongue.

 

They were almost in darkness now, the only light coming from the lamps that glowed dimly overhead. The buzz of distant chatter could be heard from neighbouring compartments, although no one since the lunch trolley witch had entered the boys' one.

 

"Do you think we're nearly there?" asked James, looking out of the drizzle-washed window.

 

"Probably," said Sirius, frowning slightly. He rubbed some condensation off a patch of glass to peer out at the scenery. "Can't see much, though, can you?"

 

This was certainly true. All James could see were the dull shapes of hedges as they passed through the gloom. He squinted in the direction they were heading, hoping for some sign that they were arriving...

 

"Hang on..." he said slowly, as something bobbed in the distance. "There's something up ahead. Could be a lantern..."

 

The train gave a small judder.

 

Sirius craned his neck to see what James was looking at. "We're slowing down," he said, brushing crumbs off his robes. "Is that Hogsmeade Station?"

 

"It is!" cried James, forgetting his sickness entirely as the platform glided towards them. He leapt to his feet. "It is Hogsmeade Station! We're here! We're at Hogwarts!"

 

Underneath them, the wheels of the great steam engine ground to a halt. There was a great scrabbling as the students began to collect their belongings.

 

Sirius got up too and slid the last remaining chocolate frog into his pocket. Neither of the boys bothered with their trunks; they would be taken up to the castle once everyone had left.

 

"Come on!" Quivering with excitement, James hurried to the door and opened it. He stepped out into the corridor, and he and Sirius joined the throng of students leaving the train.

 

As they emerged onto the platform, a chill wind whipped rain into their faces. A group of sixth-years pushed them roughly aside.

 

Unsure where to go or what to do, James glanced at Sirius, who was scanning the platform with a look of concentration on his face. "Where do we-?" he began, but Sirius cut across him.

 

"Look, there! Directly in front. There's a huge man... Can you see him?"

 

Wondering what on Earth this had to do with them being lost, James turned in the direction Sirius had suggested.

 

The man Sirius has been looking at was not hard to miss. He really was huge, his ruddy face half-hidden by a tangled mass of beard. His hands were each the size of dustbin lids, and he was probably taller than James and Sirius put together. A lantern swung in his right hand and his great voice carried across the crowded platform: "Firs'-years over here! Firs'-years!"

 

"I think we follow him," said Sirius, relieved they had found someone who knew what they should be doing.

 

"Yeah, c'mon."

 

They made their way, with great difficulty, through the jostling students and found themselves among a small knot of people who looked just as nervous as they were.

 

"All righ', then?" boomed the huge man, once James and Sirius had appeared. He peered over the heads of the students to see into the crowd. "Reckon tha's the last o' yeh?"

 

None of the first-years said anything. Judging by the looks on their faces, they were all either too excited or too terrified to speak.

 

James couldn't blame them. Glancing around, his eyes found hook-nosed Severus and the red-haired girl. The girl had stopped crying now and she was talking to the boy with a rapt, eager expression on her face.

 

James felt a twinge of something within his stomach. He turned away.

 

The small, mousey boy with the pointed nose - the boy he'd seen being tormented by the Slytherins - stood fairly nearby. He was chewing his fingernails, James noticed, and kept stealing nervous glances at the people nearest to him. His companion was a tall, brown-haired boy with a slightly pale face and... Was that a scar on his cheekbone?

 

The huge man spoke again. "Righ'. That'll be the lot o' yeh. Let's get goin', then." He set off at a stride, leaving the others jogging to catch up with him.

 

James and Sirius followed the group, as they hurried down a path that led from the station.

 

The man strode up ahead, the path growing steeper as it wound up to the castle. "Jus' a bit further. Yeh'll see a glimpse o' Hogwarts itself in a sec."

 

They turned a corner. A couple of people - including the tall, brown-haired boy - let out small gasps. A glistening lake lay in front of them, its surface dappled by moonlight. Hogwarts castle lay on the mountain of rock on the other side; huge, candlelit and mysterious.

 

James felt as though all the breath had been knocked out of him. It was beautiful. Utterly beautiful. He felt a thrill of delight.

 

Sirius, however, was looking doubtfully at the lake. "How are we going to get across?" he whispered and the mousey boy groaned with fright.

 

"We have to swim!" he gasped, seizing the arm of the boy beside him and hugging it to his chest. "We're going to drown! There's a giant squid in there, you know, and- and- It's going to eat us!"

 

The boy whose arm was being strangled patiently extracted it from his companion's grasp. "It won't eat us, Peter," he said firmly. "And we're not going to swim."

 

"H-how do you know?" whispered the mousey boy, scuffing his toes on the rocky ground.

 

Sirius fought the urge to smirk.

 

The tall, pale boy pointed to the edge of the lake. "Because there are boats," he said simply.

 

All the first-years looked.

 

At the edge of the lake, just as the boy had said, a fleet of small wooden boats floated, bumping lightly against the shore.

 

The huge man was busy steadying one of the boats enough to be able to climb into it; it looked as though it would sink under his weight. As he realised the others were staring at him, however, he stopped what he was doing to talk to them. "Is everyone here?"

 

A couple of people nodded.

 

"Good," he said vaguely. "Righ', then. Now that yeh're all here, I've got a few things to tell yeh. Firs' o' all, my name's Hagrid - Rubeus Hagrid - an' I'm Keeper o' the Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts. The second thing is that' we're goin' across the lake, so yeh'll be wanting ter get into one o' them." He waved a huge hand at the little fleet of boats behind him. "No more than four ter a boat."

 

When Hagrid said his name, a couple of the first-years made noises of understanding.

 

James, too, felt something stir in his memory. His father had mentioned a person called Hagrid... But he had no time to dwell on it as the people around him were hurrying forwards into the boats.

 

Sirius grabbed James' elbow to stop him being pushed aside and led the way into the nearest one. The mousey boy called Peter and his slightly-scarred companion followed them into it.

 

Hagrid got into the largest boat and sat down, although it wobbled alarmingly underneath him, and waited for everyone else to be seated.

 

Sirius looked around him at the still and silent water. The boats had no oars. How on Earth were they going to move?

 

As if in answer, the boats gave a shiver and jerked into life, pulling away from the bank all on their own. Several of the first-years gasped, alarmed that the boats could move magically.

 

They glided through the water, floating over the dancing pools of light reflected in the lake's surface. It was very pretty, even though the drizzle had only just stopped.

 

James was just wondering whether they would see the giant squid, when Hagrid called out from his boat up ahead. "Duck!"

 

The first-years all bent their heads as they passed under a rocky outlet in the side of a cliff, half-hidden by ivy, and emerged into a dark tunnel.

 

James could no longer see anything and the small, mousey boy gave a squeak of terror.

 

The brown-haired, pale boy with the scar said, "Shh, Peter. It's okay. Just darkness." His voice was slightly hoarse.

 

Something clunked underneath them as the wooden boats collided with a rocky bank.

 

Hagrid climbed out of his boat.

 

Slipping and sliding in the underground tunnel, the first-years followed, moving through the dark towards the only source of light: a fiery torch that illuminated a door.

 

Once everyone was gathered around him, Hagrid knocked thrice on the door's surface and the first-years held their breath. The noise echoed around the cavern for a couple of moments before the silence enclosed around them.

 

They waited... And waited... And, at long last, the door opened.

 

 

 


 

A/N: 

 

I hope you liked the chapter! Am I representing the characters accurately enough? Thanks for all your lovely reviews so far and please keep sending me your thoughts; I want to make this as good as possible. 

 



Chapter 4: The Hogwarts Sorting Hat
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-   Chapter Four   -

 

The Hogwarts Sorting Hat

 

 

 

Although the witch now standing in the doorway was tall, she was positively dwarfed by Hagrid. She had black hair that had been twisted into a tight bun, square spectacles and a stern expression.

 

James could tell that angering this woman would be a very bad idea.

 

Hagrid waved a hand at the cowering first-years. "I've got 'em all, Professor McGonagall," he said seriously and the witch in the doorway gave him a curt nod.

 

"Thank you, Hagrid. You may return to the feast. I will lead them from here." Her eyes swept over them all, taking in the mousey boy's gnawed fingernails and James' messy black hair.

 

James tried and failed to smarten himself up a bit. Oh, well. It didn't matter... He liked having messy hair, anyway.

 

"Righ' yeh are, Professor," said Hagrid. He respectfully inclined his head towards Professor McGonagall, then turned and strode away.

 

They heard his large feet moving up the path they'd come, loud on the damp rock. There was a splash as Hagrid climbed back into one of the boats...

 

Then he was gone.

 

Professor McGonagall looked again at their terrified faces. "Come with me," she said curtly, leading them through the door, into what seemed to be a huge entrance hall.

 

The first-years all stared and Sirius, although he'd known grandeur all his life, couldn't help but be amazed. The hall was massive, with marble slabs and marble staircases and...

 

Well, there was a lot of marble.

 

Professor McGonagall led them into a small chamber at the side of the hall and told them to wait.

 

"I am about to alert the rest of the school," she told them sternly. "Please remain here until I come and fetch you, when you will be sorted into your school houses." She left and there was an instant outbreak of chattering.

 

"How d'you think they sort us?" asked James anxiously, turning to Sirius. Somehow, in all Fleamont Potter's stories, James' father had never got round to telling him that.

 

Sirius shrugged. "My cousin Bellatrix said there was some sort of hat, I think."

 

"What do you have to do?"

 

"Probably wear it or something... It can't be too hard."

 

A wave of relief washed over James. He'd been imagining scenes in which he'd tried and failed to magic something from the hat. "I hope you're right."

 

The doors to the chamber opened. Professor McGonagall was back.

 

Silence fell.

 

"Get into a line, please. The Sorting ceremony is about to start."

 

Everyone scrambled into position.

 

Professor McGonagall continued. "When I call your name from the register, you will step forwards and try on the Sorting Hat. The hat will tell you which house you ought to be in... and you must then go and sit with your house. The houses' names are 'Gryffindor', 'Ravenclaw', 'Hufflepuff' and 'Slytherin'."

 

"So it's not too hard, after all," Sirius murmured as Professor McGonagall lead them out of the chamber, through the Entrance Hall and into another room. "Pity it's in front of the whole school, though." 

 

But James had stopped listening. They had passed through the doors of the Great Hall and found themselves looking down upon hundreds and hundreds of faces.

 

Candles suspended magically in mid-air illuminated the fear on all of the first-years' faces. The mousey boy's knees were trembling and his slightly-scarred companion seemed to be trying to reassure him, although his own hands were quaking badly.

 

The rumble of talk in the hall from the other students suddenly stopped and James' eyes fell on a very scruffy hat, which sat on a stool.

 

The silence was almost expectant.

 

Then, however, without any warning, a mouth-like rip in the hat opened and, to the first-years' amazement, the hat began to sing.

 

 

 

⋆☾⋆

 

 

   If you'd been here when I was new,   

 

Though it was long ago,

 

You would have seen a group of friends, 

 

Whose bonds could only grow. 

 

You would be hard-pushed anywhere, 

 

To find a group so strong, 

 

And thus it hurts to tell you 

 

How the friendship went so wrong. 

 

 

First of all was Gryffindor, 

 

Whose courage was his power.

 

Slytherin came slyly next, 

 

With shrewdness by the hour. 

 

 

Fair Hufflepuff was just and true, 

 

Her love could not be measured. 

 

And last of all came Ravenclaw.

 

Great wit was what she treasured. 

 

 

These friends shared wishes, hopes and dreams, 

 

They hatched their famous plan, 

 

To form a school and teach the young

 

- Here, Hogwarts school began.

 

 

Good Gryffindor preferred just those

 

With pluck akin to his,

 

While Slytherin took only ones 

 

For whom ambition fizzed. 

 

 

Hufflepuff chose to take them all,

 

No matter what their background,

 

And Ravenclaw liked best to teach,

 

The ones with minds profound. 

 

 

For many years, our founders four,

 

Lived and taught in peace,

 

Until the day they lost a friend,

 

For Slytherin's patience ceased. 

 

 

He'd fallen out with Gryffindor,

 

He left the castle then,

 

And never since has Hogwarts school

 

Been quite the same bright gem. 

 

 

When founders died, they left me here,

 

To take their place and sort you.

 

So put me on, don't be afraid,

 

You'll know the house to go to.

 

 

My time has gone now, for the year,

 

I hope to be back soon. 

 

I give my luck to new students

 

   And hope they do not swoon!    

 

 

⋆☾⋆

 

 

The hat, once it had finished the song, fell still and silent. A babble of laughter broke out at the last line, although none of the first-years joined in. 

 

They were all too busy hoping the hat's words were true, that they wouldn't swoon and that they would get through this humiliation alive. 

 

James was starting to feel ill again. The pumpkin pasty he'd forced down on the train was churning horribly in his stomach. 

 

Why had he eaten all that food? Why?

 

The hall went silent once more. 

 

Professor McGonagall had pulled out a long roll of parchment and opened it with her wand. She glanced up and down what appeared to be a list of names and pushed her spectacles slightly further up her nose. 

 

James' sick feeling increased by a million. 

 

A couple of places away, the mousey boy's knees were shaking so much that he was having difficulty standing. His companion, meanwhile, was whiter than a sheet. 

 

"Adams, Jacob!" 

 

A long, lanky boy jumped a foot in the air, then scurried forwards and sat on the stool. He placed the Sorting Hat over his head, where it sunk to his shoulders, obscuring his head from view. There was a moment's pause and then the hat bellowed-

 

"Ravenclaw!" 

 

The students on the Ravenclaw table stood up to cheer as Jacob Adams, leaving the hat on the stool, went to sit with them. 

 

A boy named Avery was called. 

 

"Slytherin!" said the hat, amid cheering and stamping from the Slytherin table.  

 

"Black, Sirius!" 

 

Sirius, not looking at anybody, walked forwards to sit on the stool. His legs felt like lead and he knew that, somewhere at the Slytherin table, half his family was watching him. 

 

James felt an odd hollow feeling in his stomach. Black? Black? His friend was a Black? The Blacks were almost as bad as Death Eaters. They were almost in league with You-know-Who, the darkest wizard of all time. A wizard who was gaining power. 

 

And his friend was related to his supporters

 

No wonder Sirius had said his whole family had been in Slytherin! 

 

James was so preoccupied with this that he barely registered it when the hat shouted "Gryffindor!". He only noticed properly when a sea of red and gold erupted from one of the tables. 

 

The table that was about as far from Slytherin as you could get. 

 

He felt a thrill of happiness. Gryffindor? Sirius was in Gryffindor? He wasn't like his family! He wasn't evil after all. Not, of course, that James had ever considered Sirius evil in the first place. 

 

Grinning from ear to ear, Sirius got up from the stool and strode towards the Gryffindor table. He didn't bother to look at the Slytherins, but he knew that his cousins would be glaring at him. It was common knowledge that the Blacks hated Gryffindors. 

 

His family would be furious. And the thought gave him great delight. 

 

The Sorting continued. Students were sorted one by one, and James was hardly listening until... 

 

"Evans, Lily!" The red-haired girl had been called. 

 

Slowly but surely, she moved to the stool and put the hat on her head... 

 

"Gryffindor!" 

 

Lily Evans went and sat down beside Sirius, although - as soon as she recognised him from the train - she turned her back on him. 

 

"Fortescue, Alice!" 

 

"Gryffindor!" 

 

"Gudgeon, Davey!" 

 

The hat paused. "Hufflepuff!"

 

The Hufflepuff table broke into cheers. 

 

Professor McGonagall cleared her throat. "Longbottom, Frank!" 

 

"Gryffindor!" 

 

"Lupin, Remus!" 

 

Here, James looked up again. The friend of the mousey boy was trembling from head to foot as he took his turn on the stool. 

 

There was a slightly longer wait than before. "Gryffindor!" shouted the hat and Remus Lupin, looking very relieved, joined Lily, Frank Longbottom and Sirius at the Gryffindor table. 

 

The next two people to be Sorted were both Hufflepuffs, the one after that was a Ravenclaw... 

 

The next Gryffindor was "Macdonald, Mary!", closely followed by "McKinnon, Marlene!". A boy named Mulciber was put in Slytherin... 

 

Then the mousey boy himself was called. "Pettigrew, Peter!" 

 

Poor Peter Pettigrew looked even more ill than James did. He stumbled forwards, picked up the hat, sat down on the stool and let the fabric fall over his eyes. 

 

The hat took longer to decide than ever. In fact, it took so long that five minutes passed before the hat finally shouted, "Gryffindor!"  and sorted two girls into Ravenclaw. 

 

"Potter, James!" 

 

James swallowed hard and numbly made his way to the stool. Just as all the others had done, he sat down and waited while the hat made its decision. 

 

The decision was made very quickly: "Gryffindor!" 

 

James pulled off the hat and saw Sirius cheering next to Lily Evans. Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew were opposite him. 

 

Grinning, James went to sit with them. 

 

"Nice one, mate!" yelled Sirius, clapping James on the back as he sat down. 

 

"Thanks," said James, secretly glad it was over. "You too. I didn't know you were related to the Blacks."

 

Sirius' face hardened. "I'm not just related to them, either. I am a Black. And do you mind not talking about it? Do you think I'm proud of having relatives like that?" 

 

"Sorry," said James truthfully, glancing over at the Slytherin table. "I just didn't know." 

 

"You don't have to be ashamed, you know," interjected Remus Lupin quietly. His eyes, which looked strangely tired, were fixed on Sirius. 

 

Sirius looked surprised. "I- Yeah. Yeah, I guess. I mean, I know, but..." His voice trailed off. 

 

"One of Dumbledore's most famous sayings is 'It matters not what someone is born, but who they grow to be'," said Remus, smiling slightly now, but still looking at Sirius. "And he's right. Who cares if you're a Black? You're decent, aren't you?" 

 

James noticed that Sirius looked distinctly happier. 

 

"Yeah. Fair point... You're right. It really doesn't matter. I'm Sirius, by the way. And this is James." 

 

"Hi," said James, not shy in the slightest. 

 

Remus Lupin, on the other hand, looked very shy. "Er... Hi. Hello. My name's Remus." 

 

The mousey boy beside him spoke up. "I'm Peter," he squeaked. "Peter Pettigrew." 

 

"Well, nice to meet you, Remus," James grinned. "You too, Peter. I guess we all survived the Sorting." 

 

"I almost didn't," said Remus seriously, fiddling with a stray strand of brown hair. "I thought I was going to die from embarrassment." 

 

Sirius laughed. "Me too, actually. But I didn't. Good, huh?" 

 

"Yeah, imagine if all the first-years just keeled over when Professor McGonagall called their names..." James looked thoughtfully at the last few students left to be sorted. 

 

Remus, Sirius and Peter chuckled. 

 

"They'd have to have a huge joint funeral!" said Remus, as Professor McGonagall called another name. 

 

"Snape, Severus!" 

 

"Hey, look!" said Sirius suddenly, turning to watch the boy be sorted. "It's the greasy-haired boy who was with Lily Evans. The Slytherin-lover." 

 

James followed Sirius' gaze. "Ha! Look at him, the twitchy little slimeball-" 

 

Peter cast a worried look at Lily, who was still ignoring them. "Shh!" 

 

"Don't worry, Peter, she won't notice," Sirius told him. "She's too busy watching Snivellus Snape." 

 

"Isn't his name 'Severus' Snape?" asked Peter, but James and Sirius ignored him. 

 

"Slytherin!" cried the Sorting Hat and Lily gave a tiny, disappointed sigh. 

 

"No surprises there," muttered James darkly, as Snape sat with the Slytherins. "Look, they're all cheering." 

 

"Lucius Malfoy's there..." said Sirius, also watching the Slytherin table. "He's a prefect and everything. And then there's my dear cousin, Narcissa - who's also a prefect - and her gang of Slytherin cronies." 

 

"My father knows Lucius Malfoy's dad, Abraxas," piped up Remus. "He works at the Ministry." 

 

"Who? Your dad?" asked James, now slightly distracted by Lily Evans' hair. She really was very pretty... 

 

"Yes," said Remus. "He works in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Malfoy's dad works for the Ministry too." 

 

"Oh, really?" Sirius lifted one eyebrow. "I bet the Malfoys would consider it beneath them to work anywhere else." 

 

"My dad makes haircare potions," said James, who had managed to tear his eyes away from Lily. 

 

"That's cool," said Remus, genuinely interested. "Potions has never really been a strength in my family. My father's speciality is Defence Against the Dark Arts. You know, boggarts and hinkypunks and all that." 

 

"My parents work for the Ministry, too," Peter chimed in, as the Sorting finally finished. "They work in the Department of-" 

 

But everyone around them had called silent. The prodigious headmaster, Albus Dumbledore, had stood up to speak. 

 

Peter hastily stopped talking. 

 


 

A/N: 

 

I hope you liked the chapter! I didn't have to break this one up, either, this time :) 

How was the song? Was it Hogwarts-y enough? I had some trouble with a couple of lines XD 

 

Thanks for all your support - you've been great - and I look forwards to seeing you in the next chapter. 

 



Chapter 5: The Feast
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-   Chapter Five   -

 

The Feast 

 

 

 

"Welcome to another year at Hogwarts," said Dumbledore, his silver beard and half-moon spectacles gleaming in the candlelight. "However, your stomachs are waiting to be fed and I mustn't talk for now. All I can say is... dig in!" 

 

There was a collective gasp among the first-years. All around them, the empty gold platters had suddenly filled with food. 

 

Pork chops were piled high on plates, carrots steamed in their tureens... There were potatoes of every description: boiled, fried, mashed, baked... Huge bowls of peas and other kinds of vegetable lay on the tables every couple of feet, while a wide array of pies sat waiting to be eaten. 

 

None of the first-years had ever seen so much food, not even James, whose mother's cooking was excellent. 

 

"Food!" cried Sirius, diving on a plate of chicken drumsticks and piling four onto his plate. 

 

"You can't be hungry again, surely?" asked James, who felt much better now that his nerves had passed. "You ate more than a plateful of food on the train." 

 

"Nah, it was two platefuls," grinned Sirius, now shovelling peas and potatoes onto his plate. "And I'm always up for more food." 

 

Remus, meanwhile, was busy with the parsnips. "Could you pass the gravy boat, Peter?" he asked, setting down the parsnip tureen and gesturing at the gravy. 

 

Peter stopped spooning pie onto his plate and reached over to help, spilling some gravy on the table in the process. 

 

"Thanks," said Remus gratefully, pouring some onto his potatoes before offering the boat to James. 

 

"Nah. I've already got some, Remus. Thanks, though." James picked up his knife and fork, and began on his steak-and-kidney pie. 

 

It was delicious. 

 

The tide of talk, however, soon turned to their families. 

 

"Well, I'm pureblood, obviously," Sirius was saying to the others. "My family hate blood-traitors. And half-bloods. And muggles..." he added, in a bored voice. "And muggleborns. Oh, and half-breeds." 

 

Remus choked on his Yorkshire pudding. 

 

Peter thumped him on the back. 

 

"W-wow," Remus gasped, his eyes streaming as he coughed. There was a funny metal taste in his mouth that had nothing to do with the Yorkshire pudding. "Your family hates a- a lot of people." 

 

"Yeah," said Sirius, shrugging, spooning peas into his mouth and looking unconcerned. "They hate most people. Bit stupid, really." 

 

"I'm pureblood, too," said James. "Most of my ancestors have been wizards. But the Potters aren't concerned about muggles and stuff. I mean, half-breeds are obviously a bit dangerous, but everyone else is fine." 

 

"Yeah, but everyone's cautious about half-breeds, aren't they?" said Sirius, nodding. "Like there are vampires and hags and werewolves and stuff... And they're all kind of...  well... vicious." 

 

Remus flinched very visibly. 

 

Sirius turned to him in concern. "Are you okay, Remus?" 

 

"What? Er... Yeah. Yes. Yes, I'm fine. I just.... burned my tongue, that's all," lied Remus, hoping very much that his face wasn't red. "So... What about you, Peter? Are you half-blood or pureblood or what?" 

 

"I'm pureblood," said Peter, taking a gulp from his goblet of pumpkin juice, then wiping his mouth on the back of his hand. "The same as James and Sirius." 

 

"Looks like I'm the only half-blood, then," said Remus cheerfully, glad to have steered the conversation out of dangerous waters. "My mother's a muggle. She's Welsh. Dad met her in a forest in Wales. Over a boggart, actually." 

 

James looked up mid-way through a mouthful of pastry. "What? Really? Your parents met because of a boggart?" 

 

"Yep. My mother saw this scary man in the woods and screamed, and my dad heard her from nearby. He ran to her aid, whipped out his wand and turned the boggart - that's what the man really was - into a field mushroom. He hates mushrooms..." 

 

"What happened then?" asked Sirius, finishing the last chicken leg and laying the bare bone on his plate. "She was a muggle, right? So if he did magic in front of her..." 

 

"She didn't see," Remus assured them hastily. "But she knew my father had somehow made the man go away. So she told him he was brave and let him take her home-" 

 

James smirked at Sirius. "Take her home. Ooooh!"

 

"-To look after her," finished Remus, going slightly pink. "Not because he wanted to do... well... anything else. Anyway, they fell in love and mum spent ages thinking dad was really brave for fighting off that man..." 

 

Peter chuckled. "When really it was just a boggart." 

 

Remus smiled at him. "Exactly. And one day, my father decided he couldn't pretend any longer. So he told her what really happened, told her he was a wizard and everything, and proposed. And, of course, she said yes. She soaked up the news really easily, loved the fact that her husband was magical... They ended up married, with a statue of a boggart on top of their wedding cake." 

 

James whistled. "Wow. Are you serious?" 

 

Sirius snickered. "No, James, honestly. He's Remus, remember? I'm Sirius." 

 

James rolled his eyes and fought the urge to kick Sirius in the shins. "Oh, whatever. That was a terrible joke, Sirius." He turned back to Remus. "Are you kidding me, though? Your parents had a boggart on top of their wedding cake?" 

 

Remus nodded. 

 

James whistled again. "Damn. Your mother sounds awesome." 

 

Blushing slightly, Remus smiled. "She is quite awesome, actually." 

 

Sirius laid down his knife and fork, and sighed, looking down at his empty plate. "My mother definitely isn't awesome," he said gloomily. "In fact, she's actually an old cow." 

 

Peter looked very shocked. "You can't say that!" he whispered. 

 

"Oh, believe me, I can," muttered Sirius darkly. "She's a nasty piece of work. It doesn't matter that I'm her son. She doesn't exactly love me." 

 

Remus, too, laid down his cutlery. "Sirius, I'm sure that's not true." 

 

"It is," Sirius pressed, resting his chin on his hand. "She thinks I'm a disappointment. Because I'm her eldest son and all that." 

 

"Yes," said Remus patiently. "But I'm sure she still loves you." 

 

This time, Sirius laughed, but it was bitter and humourless. "I don't think she does. The way she looks at me... The disgust is etched in every line of her face. And I know she's good at showing her emotions," he added, as Remus opened his mouth again. "Because I have a younger brother, Regulus. My mother adores him. Just as she adores my cousins, Bellatrix, Narcissa... and even Andromeda." 

 

There was silence. None of the others seemed to know what to say. 

 

James spent the time chewing his last mouthful and swigging the rest of his pumpkin juice. Once he had finished, however, the silence grew even more awkward. 

 

Remus nudged Peter under the table and tried to get him to speak. 

 

James noticed what Remus was doing and joined in, staring at Peter pointedly. 

 

Peter nervously scuffed his toes against the flagstone floor. "Um... Er..." He glanced helplessly from Remus to James, silently pleading for one of them to speak instead, but neither boy opened their mouth. 

 

Fixing his gaze on Sirius' left shoulder, Peter broke the silence. "Um... How- How old is your younger brother, Sirius?" 

 

Sirius looked at him in surprise, sighed and shook his head. "He's about a year younger than me. And an idiot. He idolises Bellatrix and Narcissa." 

 

"Do you...? Er... Do you get on?" 

 

"Get on?" For a moment, Sirius stared at Peter. Then his shoulders sagged. "Uh, yeah, I guess. He's not too bad." 

 

"I don't have any siblings," said James brightly, feeling that it was safer to join in the conversation now. "I always wanted one, though." 

 

"Same here," added Remus, who also felt safer. "And I don't have any cousins, either." 

 

Sirius snorted. "Lucky you. Although, to be fair, Andromeda could turn out all right. As long as my parents don't manage to influence her." 

 

There was another pause. 

 

"Hey, look!" exclaimed James suddenly. "Pudding!" 

 

They all looked. Now that everyone had finished eating, the food plates had been cleared and replaced by the dessert. 

 

This was, if possible, even more impressive than the main course. Towers of profiteroles and meringue rose three feet high; there was a large army of sponge cakes in all shapes and sizes; there were platters of treacle tart (Lily helped herself to some of this)... And heaps of eclairs oozing cream and chocolate. 

 

Sirius, feeling a lot more cheerful, lifted a slice of meringue and let it fall onto his plate. Peter went straight for the Victoria sponge, James found himself drawn to an interesting sort of apple pie and Remus didn't hesitate before going for a slice of chocolate tart. 

 

"Mmm, this is good!" said Sirius, appreciatively licking meringue crumbs off his fingers. "Much better than Kreacher's cooking, anyway." 

 

"Who's Kreacher?" asked James, his mouth full of apple, accidentally spraying food over the table. "Oops. Sorry..." He brushed the table clean. 

 

"He's my family's house-elf," said Sirius. "I mean, his cooking is great when he's on form, but he's usually too busy snogging my mother's feet to do much." 

 

"My mother cooks the meals most of the time," said Remus thoughtfully, swallowing his mouthful and taking another bite. "Although my father's actually quite good at household stuff." 

 

"My father's terrible," laughed James. "It's always mum who does the cooking. I think if you left my dad to make toast, he'd set the whole house on fire." 

 

Everyone laughed. 

 

"My parents take it in turns to cook," said Peter shyly, looking up at them all. "But sometimes they argue over what they're supposed to be cooking. Dad'll say that he's going to make lamb stew and then mum'll say that she was going to make it on Tuesday." 

 

"Don't they write, like, a weekly menu or something?" asked Remus interestedly. "My mum usually writes the week's meals on a piece of paper and sticks it to the fridge." 

 

"What's a fridge?" asked Sirius. 

 

"Oh," said Remus, realising the others wouldn't know. "It's like a big, cold cupboard that you put food in to keep it fresh." 

 

"Hey, we have one of those at home," said Sirius excitedly. "In the kitchen. Except it's literally just a box of charmed ice." 

 

"Well, the one at my house has electric." 

 

"I've never seen an eclecktic fridge before." James grinned at Remus through the last spoonful of his apple pie. "How does it work?" 

 

"Um... There's this thing called a plug..." began Remus, not quite knowing how to explain. "And it connects the fridge to a kind of power-booster in the wall..." 

 

The boys carried on talking until the puddings, too, had disappeared and Dumbledore had stood up. 

 

Everyone in the hall instantly fell silent. 

 

"I hope you are all as full as I am," said Dumbledore, his blue eyes twinkling. "And I also hope that you aren't too tired. I have a couple of announcements to make. First of all, I am pleased to welcome you back to a brand-new school year and, secondly, I must add that the Forbidden Forest is strictly out of bounds to all students. Mr Filch has, meanwhile, asked me to remind you that fanged frisbees, ever-bashing boomerangs, dungbombs and screaming yo-yos are just as banned as they were last year-" 

 

At the word 'dungbombs', James and Sirius exchanged grins. 

 

"And I also need to tell you that a new tree, a very valuable Whomping Willow, has been planted in the school grounds. I must warn you, however, that the tree is not one to tolerate... human contact. It will attempt to wallop any student who happens to stray into its shadow." 

 

There was an odd muttering among the students.

 

Remus felt the metallic taste creeping back into his mouth, but James, Sirius and Peter did not notice his expression. They were all too busy whispering excitedly. 

 

"A Whomping Willow - never heard of a tree like that before," hissed James. 

 

Sirius glanced up at Dumbledore. "I wonder why they planted it. I mean, if it's dangerous..." 

 

Peter looked very anxious. "Is it really dangerous?" he asked. 

 

"Well, it could probably take a good chunk out of you if you get too close... Eh, James?" 

 

James nodded, "Probably," and Peter was left gnawing his lip. 

 

"You'll be fine, Peter," Sirius assured him calmly, drumming his fingers on the table. "We won't let the tree hurt you. I mean, it's a tree. It's not like it can walk or anything..." 

 

"It might be able to walk," protested Peter anxiously. "Dumbledore didn't say that it couldn't, did he?" 

 

"Don't be silly, Peter. It can't wallop and walk. That would be too dangerous. They wouldn't let something like that roam in the grounds." 

 

"Yeah," James added, "they wouldn't." He turned to Remus who had gone oddly quiet since the mention of the Whomping Willow. "Would they, Remus?" 

 

Remus, too engrossed in his own thoughts, did not answer. 

 

James leaned over to poke him. "Oi! Remus? Are you awake?" 

 

"Hmm?" As though pulled from a dream, Remus blinked and looked around at the others. 

 

Sirius stopped drumming his fingers. "Are you sure you're all right, mate?" he asked, leaning forwards like James. He frowned slightly with concern. "You know, I asked you earlier if you were fine and you said that you just burned your tongue, but..." He trailed off. 

 

Remus' eyes went very wide. "Oh, no. No. I'm fine, honestly. Absolutely fine... I'm great, really. Totally brilliant..." he gabbled, hardly able to convince himself, let alone the others. 

 

Then, however, he was struck by a brainwave. "I'm just tired," he said firmly, pretending he hadn't noticed the glance Sirius had thrown at James. 

 

Oh, no. Now they thought he was crazy... His very first friends already didn't like him. Well, at least they didn't know the truth... 

 

"Yeah," said James, deciding it was best to leave Remus alone. Maybe he really was tired. Maybe they were worried over nothing. "I'm tired, too. It's been a long day..." 

 

Even as he finished speaking, the rest of the school stood up. 

 

It was time to go. It was time to go to bed. At last. The four boys couldn't help being grateful. They really were exhausted. 

 

Full of food and nerves and excitement, none of them could wait to get into their beds and sleep... Wherever those beds were, that is. 

 


 

A/N: 

 

Hello, all! I've had to split a chapter in two again, so the next part will be coming soon :) Thanks for reading and please stay safe.



Chapter 6: Up to Gryffindor Tower
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-   Chapter Six   -

 

Up to Gryffindor Tower

 

 

 

Sirius stood up, feeling very full and comfortable. He yawned. "Uh... Where do we go now, exactly?" he asked the others, glancing up and down the hall.

 

James shrugged. "Who knows? Maybe we'll be shown where to go."

 

"I think that might be a prefect," offered Peter, pointing to a boy several seats down, who was standing beside a group of smaller students. "He might be someone we're supposed to follow. And Lily Evans is over there."

 

"We met her on the train," said Remus, feeling a lot better now the atmosphere had changed. "She was with the Slytherin boy. Severus, I think his name was..."

 

James snorted. "Snivellus, more like."

 

Sirius laughed. "Yeah, did you see the size of his greasy nose? I don't know why she's friends with him. I'd have scarpered if I was her."

 

"But you don't even know Severus yet. He can't be that bad," said Remus reasonably, frowning a little. "You shouldn't judge people before you've even got to know them. You never know, he might be nice."

 

"Yeah," retorted Sirius, glaring over at the Slytherin table, where Severus Snape's dark hair was visible. "Whatever. He came into our compartment, didn't he, James? And he seemed like a git to me."

 

James found himself nodding vigorously. He understood that Remus had a point, but he didn't like the way Snape was close to Lily.

 

But Remus pressed on. "Anyway, Lily seemed nice. She said hello and we talked for a bit. She's muggleborn."

 

"Wonder how she met that Snape boy, then," muttered Sirius darkly. 

 

"She and Remus stopped some Slytherins bullying me," piped up Peter. "I was in a compartment on my own, and the Slytherins came in and started calling me names. Remus arrived and asked them to stop, but they just laughed. Then Lily came in and told them to go away. They left immediately." 

 

"It was very impressive, actually," said Remus thoughtfully. "Lily was, that is. Not me." 

 

"No, you were great too," insisted Peter. 

 

Remus reddened slightly and looked down at the floor, embarrassed. 

 

James found himself liking Remus already. He was kind, for one thing. And very modest. "Come on," he said, looking around at the others. "Let's go and join Lily. If that is a prefect, we should probably hurry. We need to find out where to go."

 

They all hurried in the direction of the students, Remus lagging slightly behind to wait for Peter, who was a bit slower. 

 

Lily Evans was with the other first-years, next to a pair of timid-looking girls. 

 

As the boys approached, one of the girls nudged the other and whispered, "Mary, look. Is that a ghost?" She pointed towards the other end of the room. 

 

"A ghost?" squeaked Peter, his voice very high. 

 

Remus tried to console him. "Don't worry, Peter. It's not solid. It can't hurt you." 

 

"But- b- but..." 

 

"If it touches you, it'll just slide through your body," continued Remus soothingly. "You're alive and the ghost isn't. Ghosts are just the imprints of departed souls. And I promise they're not that scary."

 

Sirius looked impressed. "'The imprints of departed souls'?" he repeated. "Wow, Remus! Big words!" 

 

Remus blushed again. "Not really... The point is, Peter, you're safe." 

 

"Really?" asked Peter, continuing to eye the ghost apprehensively. It looked a bit violent if he was being perfectly honest. Especially because of its chains and silver bloodstains... 

 

The prefect chose this moment to peer down at them all. "Is this the lot, then?" he asked loudly. Then he called over his shoulder. "Oi, Felicity!" 

 

A girl, also a Gryffindor prefect, appeared at his side. She smiled. "Yes, Marcus?" 

 

Marcus didn't look pleased. "I need your help," he told her boldly. "We've got to take this lot-" he jerked his thumb at James and the other Gryffindor first-years "-up to Gryffindor tower. And I'm not taking the cheeky little snotrags up on my own." 

 

The girl pulled a face. "Oh, but... Marcus, they're not snotrags. They haven't done anything wrong." She smiled again at the way the first-years were clutching at their fellows. "I remember when I was a first-year. I was terrified. I didn't know any magic and I hadn't met anyone yet. The poor things must be scared out of their wits." 

 

Marcus snorted. "Don't be so wet, Felicity. They can't be that terrified. Anyway, I don't care what they're feeling, right now. I just need you to help me take them upstairs." 

 

"Sure," Felicity sighed. "I wouldn't trust you not to beat them up, once you're out of sight of the teachers." 

 

The first-years exchanged glances. They didn't exactly know what to make of Marcus. 

 

"Felicity seems okay, though," whispered Peter to James, Sirius and Remus as they began moving. 

 

Marcus strode ahead of the group, his robes rippling around his tall, muscular frame. Every now and again, he stopped to turn and look at them all, as if checking that they were still following. 

 

Felicity, meanwhile, fussed over the first-years as they walked, weaving between them and ushering them along like a mother hen. "You'll all love Hogwarts," she was saying loudly, as they went up yet another moving staircase, gawping shamelessly at the moving pictures on the walls. "It's a great school. When you first arrive, you might find yourself getting lost, but you'll soon find your way-" 

 

"Hurry up, Felicity!" growled Marcus impatiently, from the top of the stairs. "We'll be here all night and I want to get to bed." 

 

"Well, go to bed, then!" James heard one boy mutter. 

 

There was a couple of appreciative snickers and the girl next to him said, "Ha, ha! Well, said, Frank!" 

 

The boy grinned and they came to a halt at the top of the staircase. 

 

Felicity and Marcus ground the students to a halt. A huge portrait of a fat lady in a pink dress blocked the way forwards. 

 

Silence fell among the first-years. 

 

"Password?" trilled the Fat Lady, eyeing them all curiously. 

 

"Shuntbumps," replied Marcus, nudging Felicity aside. 

 

The Fat Lady smiled. "Quite right," she said and, without warning, the portrait swung forwards to reveal a large hole in the wall. 

 

"Through we go!" said Felicity, gesturing for all the first-years to move forwards. 

 

There was a slight pause of awkwardness before the boy called Frank stepped forwards and climbed through the hole. The girl who'd been standing next to him followed and, gradually, the other first-years filtered through. 

 

"Need a leg-up, Peter?" asked James, once he himself had scrambled through the portrait hole. 

 

Peter tried and failed to climb through after him. "Erm... Yes, please," he said sheepishly. 

 

"Hurry up!" barked Marcus from behind them. 

 

Sirius rolled his eyes. 

 

"Here, Peter," said Remus, who stood next to the smaller boy - unlike James and Sirius, who were already through the hole. He gave Peter a push. 

 

With a muffled squeal, Peter Pettigrew tumbled through the gap in the wall, landing on top of a disgruntled James. 

 

"Ow!" James cried, disentangling himself from Peter and backing away. 

 

"Sorry, James!" 

 

"Is everyone in?" came Felicity's voice and, a second later, Remus had climbed through the hole too. 

 

The two prefects followed him and the portrait hole swung closed behind them. 

 

James allowed himself to look around at his surroundings. They were in a very cosy round room,  full of squashy red armchairs. A merry fire roared in the fireplace, and the red and gold Gryffindor colours beamed down at them from the walls. 

 

They were in Gryffindor tower. 

 

"Wow," said the girl who stood next to Frank. "It's cosy in here." 

 

Frank nodded. "Yeah, Alice," he said, in the same awed tone. "Hogwarts just gets better and better." 

 

"Come on, stop dawdling, all of you. Let's get to bed. Boys are up that staircase-" Marcus pointed towards one of the flights of steps "-and girls are up the other. G'night." 

 

"Night," the first-years muttered sleepily. 

 

"Sleep well!" Felicity followed Marcus out of the common room and vanished. 

 

The first-years separated. Frank followed James, Sirius, Remus and Peter up the boys' staircase. 

 

"Not that many of us, are there?" asked James with a yawn, as they went through a small wooden door at the top. 

 

"No," agreed Sirius. "And there are only four girls, too. Five boys and four girls. That makes nine of us." 

 

"I wonder how many Slytherins there are," said Frank, moving over to one of the four-poster beds and sitting on it with a thump. 

 

"There are ten of them," said Remus automatically. "I counted. And there are nine Ravenclaws and eleven Hufflepuffs. We're fairly evenly-spread." 

 

"Why did you count them?" Sirius asked in surprise, flinging himself down on a bed between Remus and James. 

 

Peter chose a bed on Remus' left - Frank's right. 

 

"I don't know," replied Remus quietly. "I partly did it to distract myself from my nervousness, but also partly out of curiosity... It was nothing, really." 

 

"Nah, it wasn't nothing," said James generously, unloading his trunk which had been placed next to his bed. "I guess the number of students in each house varies from year to year. Imagine if Gryffindor had no students!" 

 

"Well, that was kind of what I thought," Remus told him, unfastening the lid of his own trunk and pulling out a pair of striped pyjamas. "I was wondering what they'd do if a house only had one student or something." 

 

"What do you think they'd do?" asked Sirius, who had already pulled on his pyjamas. He sat on the end of his bed and lazily lent on his bedside table. 

 

"I don't know," said Remus. "I don't think they'd be able to do anything." 

 

James wouldn't normally have found such a conversation interesting but, for some reason, it was interesting. "Yeah. I guess they can't exactly transfer people to other houses, can they?" 

 

"Can we just go to sleep?" begged Peter from beneath his duvet. "I'm shattered." 

 

"Me too," admitted Frank, also climbing into bed. "I'm Frank, in case you didn't know before. Frank Longbottom." 

 

The others all introduced themselves before getting into their own beds. 

 

James hastily finished buttoning up the rest of his Snitch-patterned pyjamas. 

 

"Are they Snitches on your pyjamas?" Frank asked James, as James finally slid under his duvet. 

 

"Uh- Yeah. They're new pyjamas. I got them in Diagon Alley." Truth be told, James was secretly rather proud of their Snitch pattern. They'd been the last pair of that kind in the shop. 

 

"What's your Quidditch team?" 

 

"The Wimborne Wasps. You?" 

 

Frank smiled mischievously. "The Silver Arrows." 

 

James laughed. "No way! That makes us rivals!" He raised his head off the pillow and addressed the still-awake Remus. "Remus, what about you? You follow Quidditch, right?" 

 

Remus stifled a yawn. He really was very tired. "I do, but I'm not that competitive, to be honest," he said truthfully. "I quite like the Hollyhead Harpies." 

 

James groaned to himself. "Don't tell me you're in love with Glynnis Griffiths!" 

 

"Don't worry. I'm not. I just think they're a good team." 

 

"Will you two please shut up and go to sleep?" growled Peter's voice. He was now only visible as a lump beneath the blankets. 

 

James grinned. "Sorry, Pete. 'Night, everyone." 

 

"'Night, James." 

 

 



Chapter 7: Morning Dawns
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-   Chapter Seven   -

 

Morning Dawns

 

 

 

Dawn arrived much sooner than any of the Gryffindor boys expected.

 

Sirius was the first to wake and, as soon as he'd registered it was morning, he sat up.

 

The rest of the dormitory was still silent. Sunlight streamed in through the arched window, illuminating the wooden floorboards and the strange, metal heater in the centre of the room.

 

Sirius slid the duvet aside and climbed out of bed, yawning widely. His bare feet felt cold on the dormitory floor.

 

The other boys were still asleep, or so Sirius thought. He crept over to the window on the opposite side of the room and peered out, helping himself to a glass of water as he did so.

 

The Hogwarts grounds were huge, stretching into forest on his right, into lake on his left and into castle everywhere else. Directly in front of him, there was a reasonably-sized tree, clearly newly-planted. It shivered in the morning breeze, unnaturally, as though it could move its branches.

 

The Whomping Willow.

 

Sirius stared at it for a long time. It looked different from all the other trees, as if it was there for a reason.

 

But what was the reason? Why would Dumbledore plant a vicious tree in the middle of the grounds?

 

Was it supposed to be decorative? Did it have magical properties? Was it even guarding something?

 

Sirius sipped his water, feeling the icy liquid slide down his throat, still staring at the tree. Something creaked behind him, the sound of a foot on a floorboard.

 

He turned.

 

Remus Lupin stood in his pyjamas, awkwardly clutching a pile of clothes to his chest. "Oh, hi," he said nervously. "I didn't realise anyone else was awake."

 

Sirius finished the last of his water and placed the empty glass on the table. "Nor did I. I woke up early and thought I'd take a look at the view."

 

Remus hugged his robes even more tightly to his chest. "Oh, really?" He took a couple of interested steps forwards. "What's it like out there?"

 

Sirius turned back to the window and shuffled over so there was space for Remus. "Come and see."

 

Remus hesitated.

 

Sirius waved him over. "What are you waiting for? Come on!"

 

Shyly, Remus crossed the dormitory to stand next to Sirius. He looked out at the landscape. It was prettier than he could've imagined, in an odd, wild sort of way. "Wow."

 

"I know, right? The lake is massive. So's the forest - I wouldn't fancy getting lost in there. And you see that tree?"

 

Sirius pointed and Remus' stomach lurched.

 

The Whomping Willow. It was right there, looking out of place in the middle of the grass. It didn't look particularly vicious as it sat there on its own. But it did keep shivering slightly...

 

Remus turned away and found Sirius looking at him.

 

"See?" prompted the boy, clearly not noticing the slightly queasy expression on Remus' face.

 

Remus tore his eyes from the Whomping Willow. "Uh, yeah," he said quietly. "Yeah, it's great." He took a tiny step away from Sirius, wrapping his arms more securely around him, hugging his bundle of clothes tighter.

 

Sirius looked at him in surprise. "What?"

 

Remus bit his lip. "Oh, nothing," he said, as airily as he could manage. "I was just... I should probably be getting dressed."

 

"Getting dressed?" Sirius' surprise deepened as he took in the clothes clutched to Remus' chest. "What, already? You know it's only six O'clock, right? We don't need to go down to breakfast for at least another hour."

 

Remus took another step backwards. "Yes, I- I- I know. I just wanted to... erm... to use the bathroom."

 

Avoiding awkward questions was precisely the reason he had wanted to get up early. He'd decided last night that the best way to avoid revealing his secret was to get dressed in the bathroom. At all times. 

 

Sirius blinked, but he said nothing.

 

Remus fled gratefully in the direction of the bathroom and locked the door behind him. He stood in front of the wide mirror and stared at his own reflection.

 

The scars stood out more than usual against his pale, tired face.

 

As happy as he was to be at Hogwarts, he couldn't help feeling dirty and out of place. Remus placed his robes carefully on a chair beside the door, then began to pull his pyjamas over his head, wincing as he took in the scars that ran over his torso.

 

He didn't know how he was going to keep his secret from these boys, these people that were clearly too curious for their own good, these people that seemed so wild and confident and... and...

 

It hardly made a difference. He was going to have to hide it from them, no matter what.

 

Outside the bathroom, he could hear Sirius moving around. There came the sounds of a trunk opening, then several thuds as things were tossed to the floor.

 

Without anyone to talk to, Sirius had decided to sort through his trunk.

 

Brand-new spell books and potion ingredients were dumped around him as he searched through the piles of socks, underwear and robes...

 

It must be in here somewhere.

 

He rummaged in his cauldron and found something metallic and hard. His heart skipped a beat: Aha! He'd found it!

 

But upon closer inspection, he found it was just his telescope.

 

Shifting position on the hard wooden floor, Sirius searched more vigorously. More spell books, more potion ingredients and more socks found their way into his hands...

 

Then, at last, he found it. The small Black family heirloom that his father had pressed on him before he'd left the house. A heavy, golden watch.

 

Sirius stared at it for a long time. The watch was expensive, ornate and therefore hideous. There was also the added repulsion that it had belonged to his father. And his grandfather. And his great-great-grandfather...

 

It was a symbol of purity and wealth, a symbol of everything the Blacks stood for. In other words, it was a representation of Sirius differences from the rest of his family.

 

He could practically hear his mother waving it in his face and saying, "This is what you should be wearing, Sirius. This is what you should be thinking".

 

Because, according to Walburga Black, following anything other than the traditional family values was wrong, utterly wrong, and nothing short of disgraceful when it came to preserving blood-status.

 

He glared at the watch in his hand, noticing with distaste that it had the Black family crest embellished on the back.

 

There was no way he was wearing that watch.       
 

Absolutely no way.

 

He didn't have another, but he didn't need to know the time. He could make do without, for now. And he couldn't exactly write to his parents and ask for a new one.

 

The bathroom door opened and Remus emerged, his brown hair combed and with his pyjamas folded neatly under one arm. He was fully-dressed.

 

"Hi, Remus," said Sirius, glancing up from where he sat on the floor.

 

"Hello," Remus replied, dropping his pyjamas on his four-poster bed and turning to his own trunk. He pulled out a heavy-looking book.

 

Sirius looked up again, interested. "Hey, what's that?"

 

Remus blinked, but sat down on his bed and opened the book to a page near the end. He began to read. "Oh, just a book," he said vaguely, not looking up.

 

"What's the title?"

 

"'Great Expectations'. It's a muggle book. I was reading it on the train when Peter came in. I've nearly finished."

 

Sirius leaned against his trunk and yawned. "It sounds very... educational."

 

Remus smiled. "It's fictional, actually," he said, turning a page and reading on. "Set in the nineteenth century. It was written by a man called Charles Dickens."

 

"Never heard of him," said Sirius, failing to hide his disinterest.

 

Remus looked amused. "You've never heard of Charles Dickens?"

 

"Nope. Why? Is he, like, famous or something?"

 

This time, Remus' amusement was even more apparent. "He's about as famous as you can get in the muggle world."

 

"Really?" The split between wizards and muggles had always intrigued Sirius Black.

 

"Yes."

 

There was a silence while Remus continued reading, utterly immersed in the book.

 

In the bed along from Sirius, meanwhile, James was beginning to stir.

 

So was Frank Longbottom.

 

"Wassgoingon?" muttered James groggily, opening his eyes and groping around for his glasses. Clumsily, he placed them on his nose and sat up. "Is it morning yet?"

 

Sirius grinned from the floor. "It is indeed, James Potter."

 

"What're you doing?" James scrambled out of bed and leaned over to look at Sirius.

 

"Not much. Remus is reading and I was sorting through my trunk."

 

"What's the time?"

 

Shaking his head in distaste, Sirius checked his watch, which he'd abandoned on his bedside table. "Around half-past six," he said. He got to his feet and closed the lid of his trunk with a bang.

 

Frank groaned from the other side of the room. "Oi, don't do that! Close it gently, for Merlin's sake!"

 

Sirius smirked and began to unbutton his pyjamas. "Sorry, mate. Just getting dressed." He shrugged the pyjama top off his shoulders and let it slide to the floor. Then he pulled on his school robes.

 

"What time's breakfast?" James asked, standing up. He stretched and looked around for his own robes, which he had laid on top of his trunk the night before.

 

"Any time from six 'til half-past eight," Sirius replied, now pulling off his pyjama bottoms and replacing them with grey trousers. "We've got ages."

 

James began undressing, kicking aside his pyjamas with the same confidence as Sirius. "Ah, well," he said. "Might as well get dressed now." He turned to Remus. "How d'you get dressed so quickly?"

 

"Sorry?" Remus, who clearly hadn't been listening, looked up from his book.

 

James repeated the question.

 

"Oh," said Remus, not meeting anybody's gaze. "I got up early to... to..." He thought rapidly. He could hardly say 'get dressed in the bathroom'. "To read my book," he finished. "I've been in my robes for around thirty minutes."

 

"I'm not really a morning person," said Frank, who was also getting dressed. "I can't just ping up at the crack of dawn, like some people can."

 

"Same," said James, now trying to find some socks.

 

Please say he'd remembered to pack them... Please say that he hadn't left them at home...

 

He moved aside his copy of 'A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration' and looked under his set of brass scales. He found a pile of socks and relief flooded through him. Grabbing a pair, he pulled them on, then stuffed his feet into his shoes.

 

Sirius finished dressing and sat down on his unmade bed. "Is Peter awake yet?" he asked, peering over Remus' head at the lump that was Peter beneath the duvet.

 

Frank fastened his tie and looked at Peter. "Nope."

 

Sirius rolled his eyes. "Give him a poke."

 

But Frank pulled a face. "I would, but I can't reach from here. Tell Remus to poke him."

 

Sirius looked at Remus, seemed to decide that Remus wouldn't do it hard enough and leant over Peter himself. "Oh, all right. I'll do it, then." He gave the sleeping boy a hard jab in the stomach.

 

"Ow!" moaned the sleepy-eyed Peter Pettigrew. His blonde head emerged from under the covers, his fists rubbing the grit from his small, watery eyes. "That hurt, you idiots! I was trying to sleep!"

 

"Sorry, Pete," said Sirius, shrugging unapologetically. "But we had to wake you. It's almost time to go."

 

"It's okay," said Peter, massaging the spot where Sirius' finger had been. "I'm awake now, aren't I?"

 

"Good point, Peter," said James lightly, putting on his watch. "Now, you might want to get dressed. We'll leave without you if you don't hurry up." 

 

Peter squeaked and tumbled out of bed, landing with a muffled thump at Remus' feet. Apparently, the fear of being left behind was too much to bear. 

 

Remus helped him up. "Don't worry, Peter," he said kindly, as the smaller boy threw his clothes on in a panic. "They won't leave without you." Then, stowing his book neatly on his bedside cabinets, he hurried out of the dormitory and closed the door behind him. 

 

James and Sirius both made to go after him. 

 

 

 

"Why didn't he wait for us?" asked James to Sirius a few minutes later, as they hurried down from Gryffindor Tower, with Peter scrambling along behind them. 

 

Frank had waited in the common room for his friend, a girl who was apparently called Alice. 

 

"I don't know," said Sirius, frowning. "But he moves fast. He was gone before any of us could even stop him and I can't see him anywhere. He must be in the Great Hall already." 

 

"Do you think we offended him?" 

 

Sirius shook his head. "How could we have done? You haven't even spoken to him much, this morning, and I'm pretty sure that all spoke about was Charles Dickens and scenery." 

 

There was a small commotion from behind them and they both turned. Peter had tripped over one of the stone steps. 

 

"Are you all right?" asked James, helping him regain his balance. 

 

Peter nodded. "Yes, thanks. I just tripped. Have you seen Remus, yet?" 

 

"No," said both James and Sirius together. 

 

Peter's brow furrowed. "Why did he leave?" 

 

Sirius sighed. "We were just trying to work that out, Peter," he said. He glanced at James. "We'll look for him in the Great Hall and, if he's there, we'll go and sit with him. Right?" 

 

"And what if he's not there?" asked James. 

 

"Then we'll... Oh, I don't know. I guess we'll just have to look for him somewhere else." 

 

"And what," added Peter, "do we do if we see Remus at breakfast, but there's no room for us where he's sitting?" 

 

Sirius groaned. "Look, I don't know, do I? Let's just improvise. We'll know what to do if we find him." 

 

They had arrived in the Entrance Hall, where several other students were walking through into the Great Hall. 

 

James, Sirius and Peter followed a pack of third-year Gryffindor girls to their table, scanning the benches for Remus all the while. 

 

At last, James spotted him sitting at the very end of the table. "Look, there he is! He's right there, next to... Hey, it's that red-haired girl called Lily Evans!" 

 

"How d'you remember her name?" asked Peter, squinting in Remus' direction.

 

 Remus had his back to them, but they were pretty sure it was him. How many other tall, brown-haired first-years would sit at the Gryffindor table? 

 

Shaking his head at Peter, James sighed and began to stride in Remus' direction. "I listen, Peter," he said. "Now, come on." 

 

Sirius and Peter both hurried after him. 

 



Chapter 8: I Solemnly Swear
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-   Chapter Eight   -

 

I Solemnly Swear 

 

 

 

As the three boys drew closer, they saw that Remus and Lily were deep in conversation. 

 

Odd words like 'Hogwarts', 'spells', and 'Bathilda Bagshot' reached James' ears. He didn't know what they were talking about but, whatever it was, it must've been engaging; neither Lily or Remus noticed the others approaching. 

 

"What do we do now?" whispered Peter, poking his mousey head between James and Sirius. "Do we tap him on the shoulder, or what?" 

 

James confidently stepped forwards. "Let's just say 'hi'," he said. "You two keep behind me." To his left, he saw Peter nod. 

 

"Fair enough," said Sirius, discreetly clapping James on the back. "You're in charge here." 

 

James only grinned as he stood a little straighter, and moved so he was directly behind Remus and Lily. "Hi, Remus," he said loudly, keeping his voice as airy as possible. 

 

Unsurprisingly, Remus jumped, spilling his porridge all down his front. Looking slightly flustered, he dabbed at his robes with a napkin. 

 

Lily looked up, her green eyes narrowing at the sight of James and Sirius. 

 

Behind James, Sirius gave Lily an irritating little wave. 

 

Lily, scowling slightly, returned to her breakfast and Sirius nudged Peter. 

 

"I don't think she likes us," he said, in a very carrying stage-whisper. "What do you think we did?" 

 

Lily ignored him.  

 

James' attention was still on Remus. "Sorry for scaring you," he said as he watched the other boy drop the used napkin onto the table. "We really didn't mean to make you jump." 

 

Remus laughed nervously. "Oh, no. It's... it's absolutely fine..." 

 

James smiled. "Do you mind if we join you?" 

 

For some reason, Remus looked even more surprised. "No. No, of course. Sit anywhere you like." He fiddled with the handle of his spoon, looking awkward but pleased. 

 

"Thanks!" James sat down next to him, while Sirius and Peter went around the other side. 

 

Remus smiled briefly before dropping his gaze back to his porridge. 

 

Sirius reached for some bacon, while Peter bit into a croissant. 

 

Halfway through picking up a boiled egg, however, James decided to get straight into the thick of things. "So why did you leave without us?" 

 

Remus dropped his spoon. Avoiding James' eye, he turned very pink. "I... Well, I..." 

 

"It's okay," said James quickly, sensing that things were getting awkward. "I just thought we were coming down together."

 

Picking up the spoon from the floor, Remus didn't know whether to be ashamed of himself or happy. He settled for a mixture. "Sorry," he said truthfully as he laid his spoon beside his bowl, "I should've waited. I just... you know." 

 

Sirius raised an eyebrow and leant forwards on his elbows. "We were wondering whether we offended you," he said. "You just kind of... left." 

 

"I-I'm sorry," whispered Remus. His heart was pounding and he knew he'd been an idiot. On his right, he could feel Lily looking at him along with Peter, James and Sirius. "I didn't mean to annoy you. And you definitely didn't offend me." 

 

James was confused. "We didn't offend you? Then... Why did you leave?" 

 

His cheeks growing warmer with every second, Remus went back to staring at his bowl. "I- I just assumed..." he began. He took a deep breath and forced himself to continue. "I just thought that- that you wouldn't want me to... to bother you." 

 

There was a very shocked silence. 

 

Remus began to feel a bit stupid. 

 

"You thought what?" said Sirius loudly, looking at Remus as though he was mad. "Are you crazy? Why, in the name of Merlin, would you think something like that?" 

 

But James thought he knew. "You... you haven't met many school kids, have you?" he asked slowly, remembering what Remus had said yesterday about being home-schooled. 

 

Remus shook his head. "I- I haven't met any, actually." 

 

Sirius choked on a bacon rind. He coughed and spluttered until Peter had the sense to thump him on the back. 

 

Finally, his eyes watering, he resurfaced. "You mean... You mean..." Sirius couldn't even begin to believe it. "Do you actually mean to tell me that we're the first people your age that you've ever met?" 

 

Very slowly, Remus nodded. 

 

Sirius stared at him. Then he whistled. "Damn," he said, laughing to himself with shock. "Damn. No wonder you thought... But honestly, we're friends, right? I thought we decided that yesterday." 

 

James and Peter nodded. 

 

Remus stared at him, hardly able to believe what he was hearing. 

 

Had he actually made a group of friends for the first time in his life? Had he actually met some people who thought he was worth knowing?  

 

"We did?" he asked finally, half wondering whether it was a trick. 

 

Sirius laughed. "Are you kidding? Of course we did! Why would we be here now if we weren't friends?" 

 

Peter and Remus could both think of quite a few reasons. 

 

Peter even dared to voice some of them aloud. "Um... to trick him? To laugh at him? To make yourselves look good?" 

 

Sirius abruptly stopped laughing. He looked slowly from Remus to Peter and back again. "Why would James and I do that?" 

 

Peter blushed slightly. "Well... I- I hate to break it to you guys but people like you don't really hang around with... with..." But he didn't seem able to continue.

 

"With people like us," finished Remus quietly, catching Peter's eye, then looking away. 

 

James blinked slowly. "What do you mean, 'people like us'?" he demanded furiously. 

 

Peter scuffled his feet and glanced at Remus. 

 

Remus answered for him. "It's not an insult, James," he said gently. "It's just that... well, you and Sirius are what people call 'popular'. And, erm... Peter and I... Well, we aren't." 

 

Sirius glared at him. "So?" he snapped, leaning forwards again. "Who says you're not popular?" 

 

Remus smiled sadly. "I'm a nerdy goody-two-shoes, Sirius. And Peter..." He didn't want to be rude. "Peter is kind of..." 

 

"Dumb," said Peter dully, staring at his plate. "Stupid. Short. Whatever you want to call me." 

 

James indignantly put down his fork. "You're not stupid, Peter!" he said sharply. "And there's nothing wrong with being nerdy, Remus." 

 

"Tell that to the Slytherins I met in the train," muttered Peter darkly. But he did look a bit happier. 

 

"Anyway," Sirius continued. "At least you're two have people who love you in your life. I'm basically the family reject." 

 

James, who had just picked up his fork, slammed it back down again. "Will you please all stop putting yourselves down?" he said, so angrily that the others went completely silent."I think we've established that we all have insecurities, and I'm not going to sit here and let you feel miserable. I don't care if I'm a 'popular person', Peter. And I especially don't care if you're considered a 'nerd'. We're friends because we like each other, not because the social hierarchy demands it. If you think you're not good enough, you can shut up right now, because I'm telling you that you are.  You are good enough, okay? All of you. And that's the way it is. Are we clear?" 

 

James stopped ranting, breathing heavily. Everyone in the vicinity was looking at him. He hadn't realised he was being so loud. 

 

At last, however, Remus spoke up. "You're right, James," he said quietly. "I shouldn't bow down to the people that tell me I'm not good enough." 

 

Even if it's true. He added it silently and without thinking, keeping his eyes on his bowl. 

 

Sirius nodded. Letting out his breath in one long sigh, he ran a hand through his dark hair. "Yeah. You are right. I'm sorry for being a git." He grinned at James, polishing off the last bit of bacon as Peter looked up. 

 

"I'm sorry, too," Peter whispered. "And I'll try to stand up for myself from now on." 

 

James looked at him sternly. "Do you solemnly swear?" 

 

Peter hesitated. "Yes, James. I... I solemnly swear." 

 

James relaxed. "Good," he said, grinning at his friends. He hated the way they doubted themselves and decided that it was his mission, from now on, to stay with them forever. "Look, Professor McGonagall's handing out timetables. I wonder what we have first." 

 

"Dunno," said Sirius, also grinning. "But I hope we don't have to go outside." He pointed upwards at the enchanted ceiling, which always reflected the weather. "It's raining horribly." 

 


 

 

A/N: 

 

There was a slightly more serious note to this chapter, I'm afraid, but I promise there'll be some light-hearted pranks very soon. I need some ideas, though, so - if you have any thoughts on tricks the Marauders can play - please let me know! I only have a couple of ideas and they'll run out pretty quickly... 

 

Thanks for reading! :)



Chapter 9: Late!
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-   Chapter Nine   -

 

Late!

 

 

 

"Where the ruddy hell is classroom 1B?" Sirius asked irritably, as they climbed yet another staircase on the way to their first lesson.

 

"It's the Transfiguration classroom," said Remus unhelpfully, clutching a stitch in his side.

 

Sirius rolled his eyes and started using the bannister to haul himself up. "I know that, but that still doesn't tell us where the stupid thing is!"

 

They reached the top of the stairs and stood there for a few seconds, panting.

 

"My - legs - hurt!" gasped Peter, who was bent over double as he struggled to regain his breath.

 

"So do mine," said James. He leant against the wall and looked around him. To his left, there was another staircase; to the right, there was a corridor. "Which way do we go now?"

 

"I don't know," said Remus, examining his timetable, even though he knew it was useless. They didn't have any directions apart from the printed name of the teacher, the subject and the classroom number. "Let's go right. I don't think I can take another staircase."

 

"Me neither," came Peter's voice. He was still hunched over and beads of sweat had started to break out on his forehead. "But let's have a break before we move on - my feet can't move any more."

 

James nodded. "All right," he said, glancing down the corridor. There was no one else in sight. "Hurry up, though. We've only got a couple of minutes."

 

"What if we're late?" Remus hopped on the spot looking anxious.

 

Late to their very first lesson? That wasn't something he wanted to think about... They'd make a bad impression.

 

"We won't be," James assured him gently. "I promise."

 

Sirius glanced at Peter's watch, which was showing beneath his sleeve. "I wouldn't promise that, if I were you," he said. "We've got two minutes to get there. I don't think we'll make it."

 

Remus groaned and hopped even more frantically. "Oh, no... Oh, no..."

 

"Relax, mate, we'll be fine," Sirius told him. I won't let you get a detention. I'll tell McGonagall that it was my fault."

 

"But it wasn't," said Remus, looking surprised. "So that would be a lie."

 

"Exactly," said Sirius. He rolled his eyes. "But it'll get you out of trouble."

 

Frowning slightly, as though he doubted Sirius' morality, Remus opened his mouth to argue.

 

But James got there first. "Come on," he said. "We'd better get going. We really are going to be late, if we don't hurry up."

 

Sirius nudged Remus. "See?" he said. "I told you so. And if it's inevitable, there's no point worrying."

 

This did nothing to lessen Remus' panic.

 

"I said 'if we don't hurry up', idiot!" retorted James, dragging the puffing Peter down the corridor. "I didn't say it was inevitable!"

 

Sirius shrugged. "That doesn't mean it isn't," he said.

 

James just rolled his eyes.

 

They hurried through the castle, taking turns at random, avoiding the staircases wherever possible.

 

Peter trailed a little behind the others, his face flushed with exhaustion, struggling to keep up.

 

Remus would probably have waited for him if he hadn't been so paranoid about being late. He was the one leading the way, while Sirius and James strode a pace or two behind.

 

"What's the time?" asked James, passing a suit of armour and glancing back at it over his shoulder.

 

He was willing to swear it was the same one they'd passed earlier.

 

"Four minutes past nine," panted Peter. "We're late."

 

Remus groaned and sped up.

 

"Wait for us, Remus!" said James loudly, hurrying after his friend and dragging Sirius with him.

 

"James, stop dragging me! Holy unicorn turds! I can walk on my own, thanks!" Sirius did not take kindly to being pulled around corners. He pulled his arm out of James' grip.

 

"Sorry, mate."

 

Peter stopped walking. "Have we been down this corridor already?" he asked, looking back at the suit of armour they had just passed. "It's just- I swear I've seen that thing before."

 

James stopped too and Sirius reached out for Remus to stop him going off on his own.

 

The three of them turned.

 

"Well, that's what I thought," said James slowly. "I thought the armour looked familiar too. It's got the same dent in it as that one in the Charms corridor... But I don't recognise the rest of the area at all."

 

"Maybe the armour can walk," suggested Sirius, more as a joke than anything.

 

"I wouldn't be surprised, to be honest," said Remus. Then he pushed Sirius' arm off him. "Can we get going, though, please. We're very late now and I'm still panicking."

 

Peter tore his gaze away from the suit of armour and followed the others down the corridor.

 

James chuckled. "All right, Remus, keep your hair on... Hey look!" he stopped suddenly.

 

Remus turned. "What?" he snapped, looking irritated. Then he realised how rude he must've sounded and blushed slightly. "Sorry."

 

"Don't apologise," said James, waving him aside. "I just think we're nearly there. See?" he pointed to a lone student standing outside a door up ahead. "Is that Frank?"

 

They all looked.

 

Sirius' heart gave a lurch. "It is!" he cried, as he recognised Frank's tall, brown-haired profile. "But what is he doing outside? He can't have been sent out already."

 

"I don't know," said Remus, waving at Frank to catch his attention. "Though at least we know where the classroom is now!"

 

"Yeah." James watched as Frank noticed them and waved back. He raised his voice to call after the other boy. "Hi, Frank! What're you doing?"

 

Frank waited until the others were a meter away before speaking. "McGonagall told me to wait outside for you. She's a bit... um... irritated, I think."

 

Remus' heart sank. Here comes detention.

 

Sirius peered around the door into the classroom. Professor McGonagall stood at the front of it, tapping her foot impatiently. Her nostrils were also flaring.

 

"A bit irritated?" he said, glancing at Frank. "A bit? She looks like she's about to-"

 

But Professor McGonagall had noticed him looking. "Mr Longbottom, have you found them yet?" she said irritably, striding over to the door and staring down at the five boys.

 

Frank looked uncertainly at James. "Uh, yes, Professor. I have. They're here, right here."

 

None of the other four said anything.

 

Professor McGonagall's spectacles flashed. "Well?" she demanded, turning from one guilty face to the others. "Why are you all so late?"

 

Keeping his eyes on the floor, James decided to speak. Professor McGonagall had a knack of making people feel ashamed of themselves, even if they had only been late. "We... We got lost, Professor," he said. "We're really, really sorry."

 

McGonagall sniffed. "Hmm..." she said, still looking at them sharply.

 

Beside him, James could feel Peter trembling.

 

Remus' eyes were very wide.

 

For a moment, it seemed as though the Professor was going to let them off scot-free. Her expression certainly seemed a little softer as she took in the general first-year-ness that surrounded them...

 

But then her gaze fell on Sirius, who was absently examining his fingernails. He looked up at her as he sensed her eyes on him, meeting her gaze with perfect, lazy arrogance.

 

Professor McGonagall's face creased into one of mild disapproval. "As it is your first day," she said crisply, "I will not give any of you detention. However," she glanced at Sirius, who still looked unabashed, "I shall be taking a point off Gryffindor for tardiness. Inside, please."

 

She pointed through the door into the classroom and, one by one, the boys filed past her, trying not to look too pleased at how easily they'd got away.

 

Frank headed for a seat next to his friend, a Gryffindor girl who had been copying something from the blackboard. Sirius and James slid into two empty seats in the second row, while Peter and Remus were left to take the last desk at the front.

 

Once the class was settled, Professor McGonagall closed the classroom door and turned to face them.

 

Everyone went silent and James - with a pang of dislike - saw greasy-haired Severus Snape hastily stop whispering to Lily.

 

"Now that our latecomers have finally joined us," McGonagall began, picking up her wand from her desk and sweeping it through the air. "I would like to begin the lesson."

 

Instantly, the blackboard, which had been bearing the words 'Professor M. McGonagall, Transfiguration teacher and head of Gryffindor', was wiped blank.

 

The girl next to Frank hastily put down her quill.

 

James sat up a little straighter. He didn't think it was a good idea to irritate this teacher even more by not listening.

 

"If you could please take out your copies of 'A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration', I would like you to turn to page four and read the first paragraph. I will walk you through anything you do not understand when you have finished."

 

There was a great scrabbling as everyone bent down to pull their books from their bags.

 

James glanced over at Remus and Peter, as he put his quill and ink on his desk, just in time to see Remus drop his textbook on the floor.

 

Remus blushed and dived under the table to get it; James grimaced at him while bending over to reach his own copy. He extracted it from his bag with difficulty and dumped it, with a loud thump, in front of him.

 

Then he rifled through the pages until he'd found the one marked with a four. Glancing once at Sirius (who grinned back at him), James began to read.

 

It was much more complex than he'd expected.

 

In the row in front, Peter Pettigrew was frowning as he attempted to decipher something about wand movement - why, he thought bitterly, couldn't the textbook be a bit easier to read? He gnawed at his fingernails, trying and failing to concentrate.

 

Beside Peter, Remus had read the paragraph in ten seconds flat and understood it all perfectly. But he thought he'd have trouble actually performing the spell.

 

Sirius and James had likewise understood; Sirius was now leaning back on his chair with only two of the wooden legs touching the ground.

 

James, meanwhile, was surprised at how quickly he'd managed to grasp the concepts. Yes, they had been difficultly worded, but the idea was fairly simple once you'd understood the basics...

 

Once they'd all finished reading - Peter gave up halfway through - Professor McGonagall brought their attention back to her. She began to explain the process of Transfiguration, how the wand movement was crucial, how the trickiness of the spell depended on mass and certain other scientific variables...

 

Then she stopped and looked at them all very sternly. "Before we begin," she said, laying her wand on her desk. "I will have you know that I do not accept foolish behaviour in my lessons. Anyone senseless enough to mess around will be leaving immediately. And they won't come back. Transfiguration is an immensely difficult branch of magic and I would like your full attention when I am talking. In practicals, I do not expect you all to get the spell perfect on the first attempt, however I will have to be hard on you if you refuse to try."

 

The entire class was listening to her more raptly than ever; Professor McGonagall, it seemed, had the gift of keeping a class silent without effort.

 

She picked up her wand again and continued. "Mistakes, of course, are inevitable, but ignorance is not. Therefore, accept your mistakes with the full understanding that it is within your power to fix them." The wand twirled and, the next thing they knew, McGonagall had changed the quill on her desk to a porcupine and back again.

 

Everyone stared. There was an outbreak of muttering.

 

Behind James and Sirius, Lily Evans turned to Severus Snape and whispered, "Wow, I can't wait to do spells like that!"

 

But the first-years soon realised that they weren't going to be starting animal transformations anytime soon. Professor McGonagall set them all to making a large pile of notes, then gave them homework; they had to read the whole first chapter of 'A Beginner's Guide to Transfiguration' for next lesson.

 

Sirius groaned as they left the classroom when the bell rang. "I can't believe we've got homework in our very first lesson!" he muttered, pushing Peter through the door.

 

They were the last ones to leave the room.

 

Just as Remus was about to follow Sirius out, however, Professor McGonagall called out for him to stay: "Mr Lupin, a quick word, please."

 

James whirled around and stared at him. "What've you done?" he said incredulously. "You didn't speak all lesson, how could you have done something!"

 

But Remus shook his head. He thought he knew exactly why McGonagall wanted him. She was, after all, head of his house. "I don't think it's because I was bad or anything... Look, you three go on - I'll see you in Herbology."

 

He tried to nudge James after Peter and Sirius.

 

But James didn't move. "It's okay," he said generously, "we'll wait."

 

"No, really-" Remus began, but he was saved by Professor McGonagall.

 

"Hurry up, the rest of you. You'll be late for your next class."

 

Very reluctantly, James, Sirius and Peter left the classroom, looking back over their shoulders as they did so.

 

What did Professor McGonagall want with Remus? 

 


 

A/N:

Thank you so much for sticking with me until this point - I hope you like the story! If you see anything that's out of place or wrong, please let me know. I'm trying to make this as in-line with the Harry Potter books as possible.

 

Please review, if you're reading this - it makes my day and I love hearing what you think of the book :) 

 

See you soon! 

 

 



Chapter 10: Wizards Have Cacti Too
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-   Chapter Ten   -

 

Wizards Have Cacti Too

 

 


As the classroom door swung shut, Remus turned around to look at the professor.

 

Professor McGonagall looked back at him, her expression unreadable except for a tiny glimmer of... Was it pity? She pointed to the desk he'd just vacated. "Sit."

 

Remus obeyed immediately, perching on the chair with an awkward sort of grimace.

 

His teacher remained standing, although her expression had softened slightly. He did, after all, seem like a quiet, sensible boy with unfortunate circumstances beyond his control.

 

Nothing like him had ever been seen at Hogwarts before.

 

"I assume Professor Dumbledore has told you about the precautions we are taking to ensure the safety of both you and your fellow students?"

 

Silently, Remus nodded, preferring to stare at his hands rather than look McGonagall in the eye.

 

"And you understand that it would be unwise to broadcast your condition?" Professor McGonagall looked at him again, barely able to keep her voice professional.

 

The suffering that this boy had gone through... The suffering that this boy had yet to come...

 

Another nod.

 

The professor tapped her wand against her palm, looking uncharacteristically absent.

 

"In two weeks' time, at the full moon, Madam Pomfrey will escort you down to the Whomping Willow - you will remain there until morning," she continued. "Then, when the sun rises, she will take you back down to the hospital wing... You may have to stay there for a couple of days, depending on-on-"

 

At last, Remus glanced up from his lap, looking Professor McGonagall dead in the eye. "You don't have to let me burden you. I could just use Essence of Dittany and-"

 

McGonagall stared at him. "You will most certainly not," she snapped, her square spectacles flashing. "While you are at Hogwarts, you will receive the care and attention that you need. No exceptions. And don't you dare call yourself a burden!"

 

Remus went back to staring at his hands, trying to blink the tears of gratitude from his eyes without Professor McGonagall noticing.

 

Maybe she did notice, however, for she took a couple of calming breaths and said, "Perhaps you should head to Herbology. I think I have kept you long enough and, if you need anything, you know where to find me. Madam Pomfrey, the matron, will also be around to support you."

 

"Thank you, Professor," whispered Remus gratefully, ashamed to find that his eyes were welling up again. He got up from his chair.

 

Professor McGonagall gave him a small smile as he turned to leave the classroom. "I'll tell Professor Sprout that it is entirely my fault that you are late. For the second lesson in one day, might I add," she said, her voice suddenly stern.

 

Remus went pink. "Sorry, Professor. We got lost. It won't happen again."

 

She sighed. "I hope not."

 

But Remus could've sworn she smiled once more as she watched him leave the classroom. 

 

⋆☾⋆

 

 

By the time Remus had reached Greenhouse One, where his class were supposed to be having Herbology lessons, he was at least fifteen minutes late.

 

He hurried through the greenhouse door, muttered a hasty "Sorry, Professor," to Professor Sprout - who was mid-way through explaining how to pot a Spiky bush - and joined his friends around their bench.

 

James, Sirius and Peter immediately launched into a round of questioning.

 

"Are you okay?"

 

"Why did she keep you?"

 

"You haven't got detention, have you?"

 

Remus waved them off as best as he could. "No, no. I'm fine, Peter. And, no, Sirius. I haven't got a detention..."

 

James frowned. "Then why did she keep you?"

 

A split second into thinking up a lie, Remus was rescued from speaking by Professor Sprout.

 

Covered in dirt, her patched hat askew, Sprout looked up from the bush she was forcing into a pot and said, "Quiet over there, please, boys. You'll need to listen to this."

 

Very relieved, Remus turned away from his friends' inquisitive stares and immersed himself in Professor Sprout's long-winded talk.

 

Sirius, meanwhile, refused to give up. He tried tearing his friend's attention away from the lesson by tugging at Remus' sleeve and, once, poking him hard in the back.

 

Remus studiously ignored him and, after a long while of hissing Remus' name and getting no response, Sirius left him alone. He could, he supposed, ask Remus what McGonagall wanted later.

 

The lesson continued.

 

Professor Sprout handed out one large Spiky bush between four, telling them to put it into a pot and have it watered by the end of the lesson.

 

The bush was like a very large, prickly cactus.

 

James distinctly heard Lily Evans whisper to Severus Snape, "Oh, so wizards have cacti too, do they?".

 

"Of course," Snape replied, from where the pair stood - merely a few places down from James, Remus, Sirius and Peter.

 

James turned back to his friends.

 

Sirius had begun to badger Remus again. "So, what did McGonagall talk to you about?" he asked, the hint of steely determination in his voice too obvious to miss.

 

Remus muttered something unintelligible.

 

"What did you say?"

 

Remus ducked behind the Spiky bush and busied himself with attacking its roots with a trowel. The plant was surprisingly reluctant to move from its original home. "I said that- that-"

 

Trying to buy himself some more time, he pretended to be having difficulty. "Ouch! This plant - doesn't - seem to - want to - move!"

 

James bent down to help him, while Sirius hovered behind with Peter.

 

Remus hastily tried to think of a lie and, as the bush finally came free of the soil, he managed to find one. "I said that she...she wanted to talk to me about being late."

 

James, Peter and Sirius all looked at him.

 

"But... But you said," began Peter, helping James to stuff the bush into a new pot. It was putting up an enormous fight and kept sprouting spikes whenever it felt threatened. "You said that you weren't in trouble."

 

"I wasn't," Remus assured him, passing James a sackful of earth. Some of the soil spilt down his front. "Oops!" he brushed it off and glanced back at the others. "She just asked me why we were late and I said it was because we were lost. I think she wanted me to confirm what you lot told her."

 

James shook his head, pulling a spike out of his finger and wincing. "Why didn't she keep us all, though?" he asked, sucking his finger to try to stop it from bleeding. "It would've made much more sense to just ask us about it together. Why would she just hold you back?"

 

"Um..." Remus tried to think of a way around this question. "Maybe Professor McGonagall thought... that I looked like... like..."

 

"Like the most trustworthy one?" suggested Peter.

 

Full of relief, Remus took the opportunity. "Well... Yes, maybe."

 

"Fair enough," shrugged James. "I mean, she doesn't know us very well yet, so maybe it was just random chance that she picked you."

 

Peter nodded, but Sirius wasn't convinced.

 

James nudged him. "Come on, mate, it's not a big deal. Give the bloke a break."

 

Remus squirmed guiltily and tried to hide behind the bush.

 

It wasn't that he liked lying. He just knew that his friends would reject him if he told them the truth. Like McGonagall said, broadcasting his condition was not a good idea.

 

Sirius finally gave in. "Oh, all right. I guess he wouldn't lie to us. Sorry, Remus."

 

"That's all right." Remus winced behind the bush. And it wasn't because of the spikes. 

 


 

The four of them worked in silence for the next couple of minutes, burying the Spiky bush in the soil until it finally stopped attacking them.

 

During this time, however, Peter tripped over and grabbed the bush to stop himself falling. "Eeeee!" he squealed, toppling onto James and waving his hands in agony. "Ooh, ow! Ouch, that hurts!"

 

A large group of Slytherins, including Severus Snape, cackled with laughter at the sight of Peter hopping around.

 

Lily Evans, however, didn't. And nor did Sirius, James or Remus.

 

"Is everything all right, over there?" called Professor Sprout, hurrying over to the four boys.

 

Peter showed her his cut hands. "I tripped, Professor... And- and... They're bleeding!"

 

The Slytherins laughed harder than ever. "Ooh, ooh, Professor! I'm bleeding!" snickered one of them, doing a cruel but accurate impression of Peter's scrunched up face.

 

Snape smirked. "Mummy, Mummy! I think I'm going to die! The nasty cactus spiked me-"

 

Remus glared at him. "Don't talk about Peter like that!"

 

"Why not, Lupin?" sneered Snape. "What're you going to do?"

 

"What're you going to do?" Sirius interjected, stepping up beside Remus with his fists clenched. "Snivel all over us?"

 

Snape opened his mouth to retort, but Lily grabbed his arm.

 

"Don't, Sev. Just leave it, honestly. If they want to start a fight, they can start a fight... But don't join in with them or you'll get in trouble. And you mustn't imitate people like that, either. It's mean."

 

Looking like he very much wanted to argue with her, Severus made a tutting noise. But he said nothing else and turned away.

 

Peter looked a bit tearful.

 

Professor Sprout was so immersed in examining Peter's hands that she'd completely missed the Slytherins' behaviour. "They're not deep cuts..." she was muttering. "Just scratches. All the same, I think you'd better go up to the hospital wing, Mr Pettigrew. Get Madam Pomfrey to heal you."

 

"I'll take him," James offered, thinking that Peter should leave before he suffered any more. He didn't think the Slytherins could hold back their taunts.

 

And if Peter cried in front of them, they would surely make his life worse.

 

"Off you go, then," said Professor Sprout, moving around the bench to open the greenhouse door. "I'll leave the classroom open for when you get back. You can collect your things before going to lunch." She nodded at Sirius and Remus, who were still glaring at the Slytherins. "You two can start clearing up if you like. The bell will ring any minute."

 

On cue, a loud ring sounded through the castle grounds. The rest of the class began to pack away too. 

 

⋆☾⋆

 

 

"I want to get revenge on those Slytherins," Sirius snarled, looking darkly back over his shoulder as he and Remus made their way into the Entrance Hall.

 

"They shouldn't have made fun of Peter," agreed Remus. He strode on ahead of Sirius, heading towards a door that read 'Hospital Wing'. "But let's not make trouble just yet. There are other ways of getting our own back."

 

Sirius began to think he'd underestimated Remus. "Like what?" he asked.

 

They pushed open the hospital wing's doors. Peter and James could be seen at the other end of the ward, standing next to a matronly-looking witch with a white apron.

 

"You'll just have to wait and see." Remus slowed down a bit as he approached the other two. "Hi, Peter. How are your hands?"

 

Peter showed them his mended fingers. There wasn't a single scratch on them. "Much better, thanks!" he said happily. "Madam Pomfrey mended them in seconds."

 

"That's good." Sirius stooped to watch Madam Pomfrey turn and head back to her office. "Remus and I were just comparing our desires to attack the Slytherins."

 

James glared at the memory. "Yeah, I'd like revenge too. I don't like Snivellus Snape. I think he's a right git for hanging around with Lily. He doesn't deserve her."

 

They began the walk to the Great Hall, where lunch was being served.

 

James was still scowling about Snape, something that Remus was quick to notice. He smiled. "Are you in love with Lily, James?" he teased.

 

James blushed. "No! Of course not! I just think that she's much too good to be hanging around with... with..." Unfortunately for him, however, he couldn't seem to finish the sentence.

 

Remus abruptly stopped walking. He peered at James' flushed, embarrassed face. "You are!" he cried triumphantly. "You like her!"

 

"No, I- I don't-" James protested, but Sirius had already begun to laugh.

 

"James and Lily, sitting in a tree... K-I-S-S-I-N-G!"

 

James tried and failed to roll his eyes. He punched Sirius playfully on the arm. "Shut up, you immature idiot! How old are you? Six?"

 

Sirius laughed even harder, his bark-like laugh resounding off the Great Hall's walls.

 

They found seats at the Gryffindor table.

 

Peter pointed to a red-haired figure sitting with Frank Longbottom and his friend called Alice. "Hey, James, look! There's Lily!"

 

Sirius grinned and nudged his friend. "Yeah, James. You can tell her your feelings in person."

 

"Haven't I just told you to shut up?" said James, but he was grinning too. He turned to Remus. "I swear this is your fault. You were the one who shouted that I like her."

 

Remus raised an eyebrow. "Oh, so you do like her? Do we have a confession?"

 

James poked him. "Oi!" Then he smiled even more broadly. "I guess you do. You have to admit, she is pretty."

 

"Pretty what?" asked Sirius, swinging one leg over the bench to sit beside James.

 

Lily, Frank and Alice were a few places down from them.

 

James shrugged. "Just 'pretty', I guess... Pretty cool, pretty smart, pretty-"

 

"Pretty dumb to be associating with a slimy jerk like Severus Snape?" Sirius suggested lightly, dumping some food on his plate and beginning to eat.

 

James laughed. "Something like that."

 

"I don't really like the Slytherins," said Peter in a small voice, looking down at his hands. He remembered how much they'd hurt earlier when the Slytherins had been laughing at him.

 

"You know what, Pete?" said Sirius. "Neither do I."

 

"Me neither," added James. "They're all a load of gits."

 

Remus cleared his throat. "Er, isn't that a bit... prejudiced?"

 

Sirius shrugged. "So what?"

 

Remus said nothing, choosing to focus his gaze on his lunch. 

 


 

A/N:

 

I had a bit of trouble getting started with this chapter... Can you tell from the writing?

 

I'm trying to write fifty-thousand words in thirty days, this month, but I'm only on around twenty-one-thousand, so far! Help, I need encouragement XD

 

Thank you so much for all your support :)

 

~ Lacy 

 



Chapter 11: In the Library
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-   Chapter Eleven   -

 

In the Library

 

 

 

"I want to get back at the Slytherins," said James suddenly, stopping dead in the middle of the lawn. 


They had headed into the grounds after lunch and were walking around, talking idly among themselves. Above the four boys, a watery September sun spoked out from behind a cloud and a light breeze moved around them. 

 

"Yeah, I've been feeling like that myself," said Sirius bitterly. "You know, if we don't do something now, they'll think they can carry on walking all over people." 

 

James shrugged, gazing over the grass at the Whomping Willow in the distance. "I was thinking of just getting revenge on Snape, actually," he said. "I've already said I don't like him and he's still hanging around with Lily..." 

 

Remus frowned and looked at the Willow too. "So you're going to get revenge just because he's friends with someone you happen to like? Doesn't that sound a bit... spiteful to you?" 

 

Both James and Sirius looked at him. 

 

Remus stepped away from them. "I mean, of course you're not spiteful... I just think that maybe you should find another... another motive for taking it out on Severus." 

 

Sirius pulled a face. "You mean Snivellus?" he said disgustedly. 

 

"I- I- Well... well, yes." 

 

James considered it for a moment. "Does the fact that he's an arrogant, slimy toerag count?" 

 

In spite of himself, Remus smiled. "Possibly..." 

 

Sirius grinned. "Well, that's settled then. We now have two reasons for hating Snape. Do you need any more?" 

 

Remus looked at Peter, then back at the others. "I guess Snape did laugh at Peter. And that wasn't very nice of him-" 

 

Peter nodded, more eager to join in the conversation now he was sure he didn't need to take a side. He didn't want to side with Remus and risk upsetting James and Sirius, but if Remus agreed with them... 

 

"He probably deserves to have something horrible happen to him," he said squeakily. "But, if we are going to do something, what can we do?" 

 

James frowned. "It would have to be something humiliating for it to work properly. And it'd have to be impressive..." 

 

"A spell?" Sirius suggested. "Snivellus probably doesn't know much magic, yet. We could learn something he doesn't and use it against him." 

 

"What kind of spell?" asked Remus thoughtfully. "We can't use anything too complex... Where will we find something?" 

 

Peter blinked. To him, the answer was obvious. "Um... the library?" he said slowly. "We must be able to find something in there." 

 

"You know what, Pete, you're right. The library would be a good place to start," said James, nodding. He turned around and strode back the way they'd come. "Hurry up. We can look now if we're quick." 

 

Remus, Sirius and Peter scrambled after him. 

 

"N-now?" asked Remus, as though the idea was ridiculous. "But... but..." 

 

Peter checked his watch, then Sirius grabbed his wrist and checked it too. 

 

"Uh, James?" he said, dropping Peter's arm and ignoring the smaller boy's protests. "James, Peter's watch says it's almost the end of lunch. We're going to be late for History of Magic." 

 

James didn't stop walking. "Since when have you cared about being late?" he called back over his shoulder. 

 

Sirius sighed, dragging Peter and Remus after him. "I was saying it more for Remus' benefit than my own. He's already been late to two classes today. He'll get detention if he's late to another one." 

 

Remus tugged his arm out of Sirius' grip. "Too right, I will. And I don't really want to spend my first day here sitting in a classroom writing lines, thanks." 

 

They reached the Entrance Hall. 

 

"We won't be late, I promise," said James as they hurried up the marble staircase. "At least, we won't be if we're quick. Come on!" 

 

Remus sighed. "Oh, all right... But if we are late-" 

 

"If we're late, I'll take the blame," interrupted James firmly. "But I'm ninety per cent sure we won't be." 

 

Peter followed the others down the corridor. "Only ninety? That's not exactly certain, is it? And where is the library, anyway? Do you know where you're going?" 

 

James sped up. "Not really, no. But it must be around here somewhere..." He peered around, hoping to see something that would give him a clue. 

 

Where was the library? 

 

"We could do with a map, huh?" Sirius joked as they began moving again. "It's annoying being a first-year." 

 

"Yeah," said James, leading the other three down another corridor. "But give it a couple of weeks and we'll know our way around... Hey, look! This must be the right place!" 

 

They came to a halt outside a room full of books. The open door read 'Hogwarts Library' and, below that, a smaller sign bore the words 'Librarian: Irma Pince'. 

 

"What's the time, Pete?" Sirius asked Peter as they moved through the door into the room. 

 

"We have ten minutes left," replied Peter, who was looking around him. 

 

Remus looked delightedly at the shelves. 

 

There were hundreds of books. Thick books and thin books and big books and small books... Books with leather binding, books that were faded and dusty... 

 

He couldn't help being amazed. 

 

Sirius nudged him. "Oi, stop gawping, gormless. We'll have time to look another day. I thought you didn't want to be late." 

 

Remus stopped gazing at the books and turned to Sirius with his arms folded. "I'm not 'gormless', thank you very much!" 

 

"Whatever," said Sirius shrugging. "Now, come on. Let's get spell-hunting!" 

 

The four boys split up, each heading towards a different section of the library. Peter scurried off to search a shelf behind a group of Ravenclaws, while James checked the row of books two shelves behind. 

 

Sirius and Remus both went to look in the area furthest from the door. 

 

"Let's just find as many books as we can," Sirius told Remus before they moved to opposite ends of the aisle. "We can look through them later." 

 

Remus nodded and the pair of them began to search. 

 

By the time the bell rang, signalling the end of break, all four boys had a decent stack of books each, although Remus' pile was the tallest. 

 

"I found some good stuff on hexes," said James, as they hurried out of the library. "At least, I think it's good stuff - I haven't actually read any of the books yet. The titles look good, anyway." 

 

"Same here," said Remus, holding up a copy of 'Confronting the Faceless'. "And I got this out for a bit of background reading." 

 

"What is it?" asked James curiously. 

 

"A book on Defence Against the Dark Arts." 

 

"It looks complicated." 

 

Remus frowned at the faded cover. "Not really. It's a lot easier to understand if you know the basic principles." 

 

"Do either of you know where the History of Magic classroom is?" asked Sirius suddenly. He hadn't been listening at all to James' exchange with Remus. "Because, if we don't find it soon, we're going to be late again." 

 

"And I don't think we'll be let off detention this time," added Peter, who was trying to stuff his books into his already-full bag. 

 

"Give it up, mate," James advises him. The bag looked horribly like it was going to split. "I'd just carry those books, if I was you." 

 

Peter nodded and tucked the books under his arm. 

 

 

⋆☾⋆ 

 

 

By some miracle or another, they reached the History of Magic classroom just in time to start the lesson. 

 

Frank Longbottom gave the boys a thumbs up as they settled themselves in a row at the back. The girl next to him smiled cheerfully. 

 

James dumped his books in a pile next to his bag, which he hastily kicked under the desk. Next to him, three loud thumps told him Sirius, Remus and Peter had done the same. 

 

History of magic, however, turned out to be the most boring lesson so far. 

 

Professor Binns, their ancient and shrivelled teacher, was a ghost who floated through the blackboard to enter the classroom. His voice was a dull drone and the class soon fell into a stupor. 

 

Peter nearly fell asleep on Remus' shoulder. 

 

James doodled absently on a piece of parchment, staring across the classroom at Lily Evans' red hair as he did so. 

 

Sirius was chewing his quill and Remus was reading the last of 'Great Expectations' under the table. 

 

Frank and his best friend Alice were playing Exploding Snap on top of their desk, not seeming to care about being caught. 

 

Professor Binns, meanwhile, noticed nothing about his students that could force him to stop the lesson. He seemed so immersed in talking about Emeric the Evil and Uric the Oddball that he didn't have room to think of anything else. 

 

In fact, James half wondered whether the teacher fully knew they were there. 

 

He didn't even stop droning when Frank and Alice's cards exploded, emitting a very loud bang and a lot of sparks. 

 

The explosion was, however, enough to rouse Peter from his open-mouthed doze. He sat up with a yelp and looked wildly around him until Remus pointed out that the cards had made the racket. 

 

Then Peter returned to staring into space, while Remus - who'd finished his book - resigned himself to taking notes. 

 

Sirius, still chewing his quill, did not move and nor did James. Staring at Lily Evans' hair, it seemed, was not something he could be easily distracted from. 

 

At last, the double lesson ended and the class fled from the classroom, so eagerly that they looked like a stampede. 

 

"Merlin's beard, that was the dullest thing I've ever had to sit through," James overheard Frank say to his friend as they went to dinner. 

 

"I never want to face that lesson again," agreed Alice, yawning widely and pushing a dark strand of hair out of her eyes. 

 

"You'd have thought Binns would've been fired by now," grumbled Sirius as they bolted their food at the Gryffindor table. "His lessons are more boring than a load of flobberworms. No kidding." 

 

"I almost fell asleep," said Peter through a mouthful of broccoli. 

 

Remus was reading his notes, eating one-handedly and frequently missing his mouth. "I think you did fall asleep, Peter," he said. He turned a page and examined his own slanting handwriting. "These notes aren't much good. I wasn't listening for the first half of the lesson so none of this makes sense." 

 

"I wasn't listening to any of the lesson," said Sirius. "Why waste your time on something that boring? But it serves you right for reading dull muggle books under the table." 

 

"Dull? Who said the book was dull? Anyway, at least I wasn't just chewing my quill." Remus spilt peas all over the table for the third time in a row. 

 

James brushed some of them off his lap, unperturbed. "You know, Remus, if you stopped reading your notes and focused on actually eating, maybe you wouldn't keep showering us with vegetables."

 

Remus looked at the mess he'd made, as though he'd only just realised it was there. "Sorry," he said, tucking his notes inside his bag, which he hadn't bothered to drop off at Gryffindor tower. "I wasn't really concentrating." 

 

"We know," said Peter, who was also pea-spattered. He watched as Remus tried to remove the peas from all the places they'd fallen. "So... About those books we got in the library..." 

 

"I haven't looked at them yet," said James and Sirius simultaneously. 

 

Remus, however, finished dealing with the peas before saying, "I've read some of the books before. And my dad taught me a couple of hexes before I got the letter to come here." 

 

Sirius stared at him, open-mouthed. "How come you didn't mention that earlier?" he exclaimed, shaking his head. "We wouldn't have had to go to the library then." 

 

Remus just shrugged. "Well, they're... not very advanced spells," he said modestly. "They're just things I happen to know. I've never actually used any of them." 

 

"What do they do?" asked James, eagerly leaning forwards. 

 

Remus bit his lip. "Er... I don't know exactly. But I know the general effects. There's one to stop someone speaking, I think. And there's one that'll turn things a different colour..." 

 

Sirius sniggered. "Let's turn the Slytherins' robes orange," he said, imagining the look on Snape's face when he realised his robes had been dyed. 

 

But, surprisingly, James cut across him. "Wouldn't they notice, though?" he said. "Wouldn't they see they're robes are orange and tell a teacher? And that teacher would just put it right again. It'd be a waste of a prank." 

 

"He has a point," said Peter reasonably. 

 

"He does," agreed Remus. "And it would be a waste of the spell." 

 

Sirius sighed. "What can we do them?" he asked. "Do you know any other hexes, Remus?" 

 

Remus stood up and swung his bag over his shoulder. "Let's continue this in the common room," he said. 

 


 

A/N: 

 

Thanks for reading! I can't thank you enough if you've read the whole story so far. There's more to come - I promise!



Chapter 12: Incantations
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-   Chapter Twelve   -

 

Incantations

 

 


They spent the rest of the evening plotting ways to wreak their revenge. As the evening ticked by, more and more students left the common room and headed for bed until, at last, it was just the four boys and some seventh-years left.

 

"I can't find anything in here that's suitable for a first-year," sighed James, tossing aside 'Curses and Counter Curses' by Professor Vindictus Viridian. It landed lopsided on the growing heap of other books they'd tried.

 

"This book is about defensive magic," said Remus, turning a page of 'Practical Defensive Magic and its Uses Against the Dark Arts' with a sigh. "Except it's aimed at N.E.W.T. students." He paused suddenly. "Hang, on, there's information on patronuses in here!"

 

"And why would we want to know about patronuses?" asked Sirius in a bored voice.

 

Remus blushed. "Er, we don't," he admitted, closing the book and, still glancing at it, putting it aside. "I just think they're interesting."

 

Peter looked confused. "What's a patronus?" he asked, looking from Remus to the book and back again.

 

Remus followed his gaze. "It's a kind of shield," he said, "between a wizard and a dementor. A way of stopping your happy memories from being sucked out."

 

But only one word of this seemed to have registered with Peter. "Dementor?" he squeaked, looking around as though expecting to see one lurking in a corner.

 

"Don't worry, Peter," said James calmly. "Dementors are only allowed to guard Azkaban and, as that's a prison, it's miles away." He turned to Remus. "Can you cast one?"

 

Remus looked at him in surprise. "A patronus?"

 

James nodded.

 

"No, of course not! That's incredibly advanced magic... Even fully-grown wizards have trouble with that spell."

 

Sirius was busy leafing through another book. "Oi, you lot! I think I've found something."

 

"What?" The other three turned to him eagerly.

 

Sirius showed them the book. "Look. It's a dancing-feet spell. It forces the person to tap dance... And it says it's not advanced."

 

James sat up very straight. "Ooh," he grinned. "I like the sound of this. Go on. What's your plan?" 

 

"Well, it'd be an interesting spell to perform in the Great Hall at breakfast tomorrow," said Sirius slowly. A very wicked glint was starting to creep into his grey eyes. "Especially when everyone's watching..."

 

At these words, James' whole face lit up. "It's embarrassing, it's a spell Snivellus doesn't know and it's amusing!" he said. He laughed to himself and pulled the book out of his friend's hands. "What more could we want?"

 

Peter was looking doubtful. "If we do it in front of everyone," he began. "Won't it be really obvious that we were the ones that did it? I mean-"

 

"You don't have to come," Sirius told him, folding his arms and staring at Peter. "You can sit well away from us, if you like, and just watch."

 

Peter flushed. He didn't want to miss the action but, at the same time... He deflated under the glares of Sirius and James. "I- I guess... I guess I'll come."

 

Remus looked at him. "We're not making you," he said gently. "But if you want to come, you're perfectly welcome to-"

 

James put the book aside and addressed Remus. "You're joining in, then?" he asked, surprised.

 

Remus fidgeted and looked at the floor. "Of course, if you don't want me to help, I won't. I just thought-" 

 

"Are you mad? Of course we want you to stay with us! I just didn't think you'd want to," said James, shaking his head. "I thought you'd be worried about getting in trouble." 

 

"So did I," muttered Sirius. He nudged Remus playfully. "Mr Oh-No-We're-Going-To-Be-Late Lupin." 

 

Remus smiled. "I'll come then," he said. "But first-" he picked up the book again and turned back to the page they'd been looking at "-we need to learn the spell." 

 

Peter leaned over. "How do we do that?" he asked. "We haven't done any magic yet." 

 

Sirius smirked. "How fitting that our first spell is going to be a prank," he said. "I feel like a rebel." 

 

The other three laughed. 

 

"Sirius, your whole family is in Slytherin," James reminded him. "And you're in Gryffindor. I don't think you can get more rebellious than that."

 

"Not in my parents' eyes, anyway," he agreed. 

 

"So how do we learn the spell?" Peter prompted, gesturing to the book. "What're we supposed to do?" 

 

Remus traced the diagram, which bore instructions on how to cast the jinx, as well as its effects. "It says we have to say 'Tarantallegra' and point our wands at the person's legs," he said. "It also gives us some tips for getting it right first try. Look." 

 

Sirius skim-read the paragraph, then glanced at the diagram. "Looks simple enough," he said lazily, leaning back against the common room wall, with his legs stretched out in front of him. 

 

"No, it doesn't," said Peter worriedly. 

 

James patted him on the shoulder. "Yeah, it does, Pete," he assured him. "And it can't exactly go too wrong, can it? I mean, what's the worst that could happen?" 

 

"The whole room explodes?" suggested Remus with a shrug. 

 

James grinned. "Exactly. And that's hardly a disaster." 

 

"I think you and I have very different ideas about what classifies as 'a disaster', James," said Remus.

 

"Yeah, I'd rather not create a giant explosion on my second day at Hogwarts," said Peter.

 

Remus smiled dryly. "It might set the bar quite high." 

 

Peter laughed, the sound mingling with Sirius' yawn. 

 

"Can we go to bed now?" Sirius asked, stretching and getting to his feet. "I mean, I don't know about you but, if we're going to do this prank, we need some sleep." 

 

"Fair enough," said James. "Come on, we might have to wake up early tomorrow." 

 

Sirius groaned. "I'm starting to think this prank is a bad idea. I hate waking up early." 

 

"Oh, come on, mate! You were the one that suggested the plan in the first place," James told him as they climbed the stairs to their dormitory. 

 

Frank was already asleep in the bed nearest to the door. 

 

They pulled on their pyjamas and climbed into bed, still whispering to each other about the spell they were going to use. 

 

James fell asleep thinking triumphantly about the look on Snape's face when he started to dance tomorrow. 

 

 

⋆☾⋆

 

 

Breakfast the next morning was a very exciting affair for Peter, James, Remus and Sirius. They left the dormitory in a flurry of laughter and anticipation, wands hidden inside their robes. 

 

Peter's face was ever so slightly green, although he would never have admitted it. 

 

Remus too was feeling slightly nervous. Unlike Peter, however, he remained composed and accepted his part willingly. 

 

Even if a tiny part of him did dread getting into trouble. 

 

 

"Remember the incantation," James told Sirius, as they passed a group of Hufflepuffs on their way into the Great Hall. "It's tarantallegra. And you'll need to get a nice aim, too, or it won't work and you'll just look stupid-" 

 

"Thanks for the support, mate," said Sirius sarcastically. They had decided that he would be the one to cast the spell, with James as a backup if necessary. "It's so nice to hear your words of comfort." 

 

James grinned sheepishly. "Sorry," he said. "I just want this to go right." 

 

"You cast the spell, then, if you're so bothered," grumbled Sirius. But he was secretly quite pleased that he had been chosen over the others. "Hey, there's Snivelly!" 

 

The other three looked. 

 

Snape was walking down the aisle between the Slytherin and Ravenclaw tables, with Lily Evans at his side. They were both deep in discussion and looked back over their shoulders when they were forced to part. 

 

Lily sat down at the Gryffindor table, next to Frank and Alice, opposite a couple of other first-year girls that James didn't know. 

 

He glanced at Sirius. "Shall we do it now? Before Snivellus sits with the rest of his house?" 

 

Sirius nodded and pulled his wand from inside his robes. He was gripping it so hard that his knuckles were white. "Yeah. Sure thing." He watched Snape approach the wall of green and silver that was the Slytherin table. "C'mon." 

 

The four boys strode, with James and Sirius in the lead, towards the place where Snape stood. Peter and Remus trailed a little behind, not entirely certain what to do with themselves. 

 

Peter was gnawing his lip so hard that it had begun to bleed. He didn't think this was a good idea. If the spell went right, everything would be fine. But if it went wrong... 

 

And there were so many things that could go wrong. 

 

"Oi, Snivellus!" James called, once Snape was within earshot. 

 

At least half the hall turned to look at them. 

 

Snape had paused right beside the Slytherin table and was looking at James with obvious disgust. 

 

"Did you run out of shampoo this morning? Because your hair looks like it could do with a wash." 

 

A couple of people watching sniggered. 

 

Snape flushed deeply. "Shut up, Potter. I do not need a wash." 

 

Sirius, grinning broadly, nudged James. "You're right, Snivelly. You don't need a wash. You need at least four if you ask me." 

 

Several more sniggers ran through the hall. 

 

Severus Snape's face was now an ugly shade of beet red. He balled his fists by his sides and glared at the four boys. "How dare you, Black!" 

 

"Truth hurts," retorted Sirius, his eyes burning with malicious hatred. "Now, we have something to say to you." 

 

Sneering slightly, Snape glanced down at the wand clutched in Sirius' outstretched hand. He took a step back, however, when he saw what it was aimed at. "Oh, yeah? And what's that?" 

 

"Ready?" James whispered to Sirius. 

 

Sirius nodded. 

 

Behind the other two, Remus shifted uncomfortably. 

 

Peter sucked his bleeding lip. 

 

"Just one word," said Sirius quietly. The whole hall was watching him now, even the teachers.  Thankfully, however, strict Professor McGonagall wasn't present. 

 

Nor was Dumbledore. 

 

Trying to keep his hand steady, Sirius pointed his wand at Snape's legs and cried, "Tarantallegra!"

 

There was a deafening bang, and several people screamed. 

 

Peter yelled and jumped backwards, dragging Remus with him. 

 

Instead of being forced into a tap dance, Severus was thrown backwards into some Slytherin fourth-years, who swore as he landed on top of them. 

 

Sirius glanced down at his wand in horror. Why hadn't the spell worked? 

 

True, they hadn't practised it beforehand, but it wasn't that complicated, surely? The book had said that it was suitable for first-years... 

 

Beside Sirius, James took a step forwards, ready to cast the spell himself. But Remus grabbed his arm. 

 

"No, don't," he hissed. "It might go even more wrong. Anyway, it'll look stupid if you try it a second time. Just act like you meant to do it and no one will notice." 

 

James nodded and lowered his wand. "All right. Fair enough. I guess we've-" 

 

Peter gasped. 

 

A blonde Slytherin prefect had stood up and moved in front of them. 

 

"Well, well, well," sneered the drawling voice of the blonde-haired boy. His narrow, pointed features were twisted with spite. "If it isn't little Sirius Black and a group of his pathetic first-year friends." 

 

Sirius glared at him. "Shove off, Malfoy!" 

 

"Watch your language, Black, or you might find yourself in detention. You see, I - unlike you - am a prefect and I have the power to strip you of certain-" 

 

"We all know what you can and can't do, you big-headed git," snarled Sirus, not afraid of Malfoy in the slightest. 

 

Lucius Malfoy's voice suddenly became deadly cold. "Don't you dare address me like that, Black. You should be ashamed of the way you've turned out." He turned to take in James, Remus and Peter, who were standing there frozen. 

 

His lip curled. 

 

Sirius stood his ground. 

 

"You know, I would've thought that even you would know better than to hang around with riff-raff like this. The Potters are almost blood-traitors, the way they behave. And your other friends..." Malfoy's cold eyes lingered on Peter's trembling form and Remus' scarred face. "Your other friends can hardly be any better, can they?" 

 

"Be quiet," said James softly, glaring at Malfoy with the same hatred he'd shown Snape. "You're just a-" 

 

"Careful, Potter, or I really will give you detention." 

 

Unable to contain himself, Remus snorted. 

 

Malfoy's gaze fell on him. "Think my status is funny, do you?" he whispered nastily. He looked Remus up and down. "And who are you? Some unworthy brat of a muggle?" 

 

Remus took a step forwards. He should have been terrified, but he wasn't. "So what if I am? My father works for the Ministry." 

 

"Wait a second..." Lucius' eyes narrowed as he did some serious thinking. "I know who you are. You're Lyall Lupin's son, aren't you? He works in the Beast department. Trying to protect the filth that litters the wizarding world, like Mudbloods and vampires and werewolves-" 

 

"Pardon?" Remus raised an eyebrow. "Did you just include muggleborns in that list?" 

 

Malfoy smirked. "Of course I did. Why wouldn't I? But, of course, your mother's a muggle, isn't she? I suppose you're a muggle-lover like the rest of the wizarding world? Wasting your time trying to teach wizards that scum is acceptable-"

 

"Malfoy," said Remus very quietly. "I suggest you stop talking now, or I'll-" He broke off mid-sentence. 

 

"Go on," said Malfoy, looking delighted. "Going to duel me, are you, you brainless first-year? All right, but I can't guarantee you'll survive it, I'm afraid." 

 

He raised his wand and pointed it at Remus, at the same time as James and Sirius stepped in front of him... 

 

BANG! 

 

The next thing anyone knew, Lucius Malfoy was flying through the air. He landed with a loud thump several meters away, his sleek blonde hair falling all over his face. 

 

There was a very stunned silence. 

 

Remus Lupin stood there with his arm outstretched, his wand pointing straight at Malfoy. 

 

James, Sirius and Peter all stared at him. 

 

So did Malfoy. 

 

Very calmly, not taking his eyes off the crumpled figure in front of him, Remus tucked his wand back into his robes and pushed a strand of brown hair out of his eyes. He didn't seem at all perturbed by what had just happened. 

 

Even though the rest of the Great Hall was in shock. 

 

"What did you-" began James. But before he could get any further, there was a loud clucking noise and he looked back to see Malfoy lying on the ground, covered in feathers and chicken excrement. 

 

The spell seemed to have kicked in properly. 

 

 

 

A/N: 

 

I had fun writing this chapter, but it might be a little confusing in places. Please let me know if it is :) 

 

If you have any more prank ideas, feel free to suggest them. I need as many as I can get; I've got seven years of mischief to write! 

 

 

Also, if you'd like to read the full version of Remus' parents' backstory, the book is called 'Setting of the Moon' and it's in my profile. :) 



Chapter 13: Give and Take
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-   Chapter Thirteen   -

 

Give and Take

 

 

 

Once everyone had recovered from the shock, there was a loud outbreak of applause from the Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff tables. 


But just as the school was getting into things, a stern voice asked: "What's going on in here?" 

 

James felt his stomach drop to the floor. He recognised that voice... 

 

The Hall fell silent at once. Up at the staff table, several teachers were muttering and shaking their heads. 

 

Professor McGonagall waited until she was standing behind the four boys to speak again. "Boys, what are you doing? Are you responsible for all this noise? Why is Mr Malfoy lying on the floor? And what-" she caught sight of Snape, still slumped against the table and her lips turned white "-have you done to this other boy?" 

 

 

Another teacher came down from the staff table, looking just as disapproving as McGonagall sounded. "Minerva, there seems to have been some sort of attack. These boys tried to cast a spell on a Slytherin first-year, then Mr Malfoy cornered them. From what it looked like, Professor, he was threatening them-" 

 

Professor McGonagall held up a hand to silence her colleague. "Octavius, please take this Slytherin to see Madam Pomfrey." She gestured at Snape, who was being held upright by the fourth-years he'd fallen on top of. "Then return to the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. I will take care of this." 

 

The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor left immediately, helping Snape up and throwing a searching look at James, Remus, Sirius and Peter as he supported him out of the hall. 

 

From the ground, Lucius Malfoy groaned. A couple of chicken feathers fell off him and drifted to the floor. 

 

McGonagall stared at him. "Mr Malfoy, go back to your common room and clean yourself up. You'll be fine once you've got all the... the... droppings off." 

 

Sirius sniggered as Malfoy picked himself up off the floor and headed for the exit, moving clumsily between the house tables. 

 

Once Malfoy was out of sight, the Transfiguration professor turned to the four boys. "Have you eaten breakfast yet?" 

 

They all shook their heads. 

 

Peter's stomach gave a tremendous rumble. He blushed. 

 

"Well, I suggest you get something to eat before coming to my office. I need you to explain what happened. Attacking a fellow first-year! What were you thinking?" McGonagall straightened her square spectacles then swept off, still muttering under her breath. 

 

James, Sirius, Peter and Remus glanced at each other. 

 

"You realise she didn't even mention what we did to Malfoy," said Sirius in an undertone as they sat down at the Gryffindor table.  

 

A couple of curious people were still watching them. 

 

"I know," said James. He helped himself to some toast. "We'd better get a move on, though. Eat quickly or we'll get into even more-" 

 

"I can't believe you did that to Snape!" said a male voice from behind them. Frank Longbottom was standing there, looking both shocked and impressed. "That was... incredible." 

 

James couldn't help grinning. No matter what trouble they were about to face, their triumph over Snape still made him cheerful. "Cheers. But the thing with Malfoy was better." 

 

Frank grinned too and cast an admiring smile Remus' way. "I know! What spell was that? It was awesome, honestly. I didn't know you knew magic. I don't know any spells yet... " 

 

Remus felt his cheeks burn and he attempted to hide behind his fork. 

 

Sirius gave him a poke. "It's not a bad thing, mate," he said. "You don't have to hide." 

 

"Yeah," said Frank. "You don't. I'm super impressed, seriously." 

 

Remus smiled awkwardly. "I don't think McGonagall is, though. I don't think she's the sort to approve of fights." 

 

"Don't worry," said James, chewing his toast as fast as he could. "She seemed more annoyed about the Snape thing than what you did to Malfoy. I don't think she'll punish you too severely." 

 

"No," agreed Sirius darkly. "But Malfoy might. He's not going to be happy. You made a fool of him in front of the entire school, Remus." 

 

"Ah, well. He was being rude about muggleborns. He deserved it. And I guess he can't do too much to us without risking losing his prefect badge," James told Remus. 

 

Frank nodded. "You should report him. I heard the things he said and he used the 'M' word. He definitely shouldn't be allowed to get away with that." 

 

"No, he shouldn't," Peter chimed in. "We'll tell McGonagall when we're in her office. And, technically, he did try to attack us first." 

 

"But we attacked Snape," said Remus anxiously. "Which was the reason Malfoy stood up. He was doing his duty as a prefect, but we were just... just..." 

 

James shook his head and stood up. "Don't be silly. We hexed Snivellus because he was horrible to Peter. Therefore it's Snape's fault that we attacked him. He started this whole thing. It's not our problem." 

 

Remus didn't look too convinced. But he followed James and the others out of the Great Hall, with Frank trailing along behind them. 

 

"Where's McGonagall's off- ?" began Sirius, but before he could complete the word 'office', Professor McGonagall himself had come striding towards them from the marble staircase. 

 

She had evidently been waiting to escort them. 

 

"Potter, Black, Lupin and Pettigrew," she said crisply, ignoring Peter's flinch. "Please follow me." She glanced at Frank. "There is no need for you to come too, Mr Longbottom. If you would like to return to Gryffindor tower..." 

 

Frank hurried away, casting a sympathetic glance back over his shoulder at the others. 

 

James tried hard to avoid the professor's gaze as she led them up the marble staircase and along a corridor. 

 

What if they did get in a lot of trouble? Surely it would be his fault if the others got punished? He'd been the one to suggest they got revenge on Snape, after all... 

 

They reached a door with a small sign reading 'M. McGonagall, Transfiguration Professor, Head of Gryffindor, Deputy Headmistress'. Professor McGonagall held it open for them as the four boys filed past her into the office. 

 

Once they were all inside, she closed the door, turned to face them and glared at them with sharp eyes. "Please explain why you four though it would be a good idea to hex a fellow student, in the middle of the Great Hall at breakfast." 

 

For a couple of seconds, they all just looked at each other. 

 

Peter had backed so far into the wall that he looked as though he was trying to melt through it. 

 

Remus' hands were shaking. 

 

Even Sirius couldn't look bored this time. 

 

"We..." James finally began, glancing guiltily at the floor. "We- I mean, I- I thought it would stop Snape being rude to people." 

 

Professor McGonagall's lips thinned even more. "Do you mean to tell me that you couldn't have told a teacher about Mr Snape's behaviour? You couldn't have come to me if he was provoking you?" 

 

"Erm..." One glance at the other three told them that they hadn't thought of that either. Now that McGonagall had said it, it did seem like the obvious thing to have done. 

 

"That," she said curtly, "was a very foolish mistake to make." 

 

There was silence before the professor spoke again. "In what way did Mr Snape provoke you?" 

 

James immediately launched into an explanation, telling McGonagall exactly what happened in Herbology. By the time he'd finished, the professor's eyebrows were almost touching her hairline and she looked very serious. 

 

"I see," she said finally, sitting down behind her desk. She shifted a couple of papers aside, then looked at the four boys again. "Thank you for telling me this, Mr Potter. Now, what exactly did you attempt to do to Mr Snape? I assume it failed; you cannot have learned enough magic yet to be able to do much damage to him." 

 

Another explanation was necessary. 

 

This time, however, it was Sirius who told McGonagall about combing the library for a decent spell, about finally finding the dancing-feet hex and deciding to use it against Snape. He explained how he had tried to cast the spell at breakfast and how it had merely caused Snape to fall backwards. 

 

At this, Professor McGonagall gave him a stern glare. "I hope you realise exactly how easily you could've given Mr Snape a serious injury," she said. "Not only could the spell have gone even more wrong than it did, you could also have hurt him when he fell. And you didn't stop once to practice the hex? You didn't bother to consider the fact that you are mere novices in magic and on your second day at school?" 

 

James, Sirius, Peter and Remus all stared at the floor, each feeling ashamed of themselves in varying degrees. 

 

"Yeah, maybe we should've practised first," said James after another pause, glancing up at the other three. "We didn't think, Professor. The whole thing was... was unplanned and stupid." He'd never thought he'd say such a thing following a prank. 

 

But McGonagall had a point; if they were going to attack a student, they might as well have done it properly. 

 

Professor McGonagall sniffed and shifted some more of her papers. "Thank you, Mr Potter. The fact that you have acknowledged your stupidity is a slight comfort... May I ask what role Mr Malfoy had in this?" She glanced at Remus, who had been silent the whole time. "I believe you were the one who ended up covering him in feathers?" 

 

In spite of himself, Remus smiled. "Er... Yes, Professor," he said. "I'm sorry. He stood up after we used the spell on Severus. He didn't exactly tell us off for what we'd done, which was a bit surprising, to be honest. Instead, he started saying... not very nice stuff about Sirius." Remus threw his friend an apologetic glance as he continued. "Malfoy said that Sirius was wrong to associate with people like us because we're 'blood traitors' and muggleborns and... and..." 

 

Professor McGonagall heard the unsaid 'halfbreeds' in his silence. 

 

Remus took a breath and carried on speaking. "He used the 'M' word, too, Professor. And I got kind of angry. I told him that he shouldn't say those things... But Malfoy just laughed. He asked me if I was going to duel him and pulled out his wand. And then... I hexed him," Remus finished lamely. 

 

Professor McGonagall looked more disgusted at the idea of Lucius Malfoy calling someone 'Mudblood' than angry. She shook her head a couple of times, her lips still tightly pressed in a line. 

 

Then she turned back to Remus. "Which spell did you use on him?" 

 

Remus blushed slightly "Calvesco Pullum," he said quietly. "It was the first thing I could think of." 

 

To the four boys' surprise, Professor McGonagall's lips twitched. 

 

She looked thoughtfully at Remus, then asked, "Where did you learn that spell, Mr Lupin?" 

 

"Um... My dad taught it to me," he admitted. "Before I came to Hogwarts. I was reading one day and I came across it. I didn't know what it was, so I asked my dad about it and he told me. I've never actually used it, though." 

 

"It's a very unusual spell," McGonagall remarked, now looking faintly interested. "And it's the sort of thing that your father would know about. Lyall Lupin always had a soft spot for obscure jinxes. I'm not surprised that he taught some of them to you. They can come in very handy when duelling." She smiled properly this time. 

 

James glanced at Sirius, surprised. 

 

"Very well, you four. Although you have broken the rules twice in two days, I cannot say that I'm not impressed by what you did to Mr Malfoy - that spell is a difficult one to pull off at the best of times, let alone in first-year. I shall award ten points to Gryffindor and you shall not receive detention." 

 

The four of them held their breath. Could luck really get them out of this? 

 

McGonagall carried on, in a slightly more serious tone. "I will, however, be taking five points off Gryffindor for the attack on Mr Snape. He did do wrong by insulting you, Mr Pettigrew-"

 

Peter tried to back away into the wall again. 

 

"-But it is not your duty to deal out punishments to students who fail to toe the line. I will speak to Professor Slughorn, who is head of Slytherin house, about his students' unacceptable behaviour - especially that of Mr Malfoy, who should know better as a prefect." 

 

James' spirits lifted. They weren't in too much trouble, after all! They'd only lost a couple of points and they could win those back easily.

 

Although, of course, he'd only been worried for Remus and Peter's benefit. 

 

 

 

Finally, Professor McGonagall stood up. She strode to the office door and held it open for them to pass through. "You may go to your classes now. Please don't ever let me catch you doing such a stupid thing again." 

 

"We won't," chorused the four boys as they left the room, glancing back at the many bookcases as they did so. The office was very tidy. 

 

With a soft click, the door swung shut behind them. 

 

Remus breathed a sigh of relief. "I thought we'd had it then. I never want to do anything like that again. That's twice we've disappointed Professor McGonagall now and she isn't the kind of person who likes being disobeyed." 

 

"It wasn't as bad as I'd thought it would be," said Sirius, leading the way down the corridor. They had Charms first, with a teacher called Professor Flitwick. "I mean, she was actually impressed by your spell, Remus. Maybe if we'd mastered the other one properly, we wouldn't have lost any points at all!" 

 

James laughed. "Maybe. But I don't think she'd have approved of what we did, no matter how it turned out." 

 

"She'd have told us not to get revenge on people," said Peter, nodding. 

 

"Ah, well," said Sirius cheerfully. "We did get our revenge anyway. McGonagall said she'd talk to Slughorn and we hexed two Slytherins. That's not a bad outcome, considering." 

 

The others nodded. They had reached the Charms classroom. 

 

Frank and Alice came hurrying over to greet them. 

 

"Hi, you four. How did it go in McGonagall's office? You're not in trouble, are you?" 

 

James grinned and shook his head, rumbling up his dark hair to keep it messy. He'd just noticed Lily Evans glaring at him out of the corner of his eye. "Nope. Well, we lost a couple of points... But we gained more than we lost, so it's not a big deal." 

 

The girl called Alice looked very surprised. "You gained points?" she asked, her eyes wide. "McGonagall actually gave you some points?" 

 

Sirius shrugged. "Yeah. She said we shouldn't have attacked Snivellus, but she was kind of impressed by Remus' spell." 

 

"So was I," said Frank. "And who's 'Snivellus'?" 

 

Sirius looked unconcerned. "Snape," he explained, just as Professor Flitwick came hurrying out to meet them. 

 

The professor was tiny, barely three feet tall, with wispy silver hair and a very squeaky voice. He ushered the class inside and hurried to his desk, where he was forced to stand on a pile of books to see over the top. 

 

The first thing he did, once they were all settled, was call the register. Then he picked up his wand and tapped the blackboard. Writing appeared on its surface and he spent the first part of the lesson explaining how Charms worked.

 

The lesson was the noisiest one yet, and the second half of it was dedicated to practising incantations and wand-movement - without wands. 

 

The pupils were each told to pretend their finger was their wand and to put it in the air. Then Professor Flitwick stood at the front of the class (still perched precariously on his pile of books) crying random incantations and instructing them all to copy. 

 

Several members of the class were a little too enthusiastic with their 'wand-waving', Peter included. James got poked in the eye multiple times, even though he was wearing glasses. 

 

"Sorry, sorry!" gasped Peter, the fourth time this happened. "I'm trying not to, I just-" 

 

"It's all right," muttered James, rubbing his sore eye to stop it from watering. "But please try a bit harder." 

 

 

⋆☾⋆

 

 

After Charms, they had Defence Against the Dark Arts, which the whole of Gryffindor had been looking forwards to. 

 

Professor Oden, their teacher, was a strange man, with silvery eyes that went in and out of focus. From the moment they walked into his classroom, he was hurrying around, frantically looking for his wand, which he seemed to have mislaid. 

 

After about ten minutes of searching, he finally remembered where he'd put it: in the top drawer of his desk. Then he apologised for the awkward start to the lesson, sat down and took the register. 

 

"He's not very definite, is he?" James whispered to Sirius, who he had sat next to. "I wonder what he's like at teaching?" 

 

But Professor Oden turned out to be a very good teacher, despite his forgetfulness. He seemed to be able to remember everything one minute, then forget it the next. 

 

Twice he lost the board rubber and also forgot that he had a wand; he spent a long time fretting that he couldn't wipe the blackboard clean before Frank pointed out that he could just use magic. 

 

"Oh, yes. Sorry," muttered the professor, going pink in the face as he wiped the board with a flick of his wand. 

 

By this time, half the class were suppressing giggles. 

 

 

 

All in all, however, their first Defence Against the Dark Arts lesson was a success, even if they did have to keep reminding their teacher that he was a wizard. 

 

Professor Oden was perfectly good at remembering names and spells, and it seemed to be the more mundane things that he forgot. He took a shine to Remus when he found out that Remus could answer every question thrown at him and had, by the end of the lesson, awarded Gryffindor a total of twenty points. 

 

"How did you know all that stuff?" James asked Remus as they left the classroom and headed out into the grounds. 

 

After break, they were to have their second Transfiguration lesson. 

 

"Oh, I don't know that much," mumbled Remus, trying desperately not to sound like a know-it-all. "I just happen to know... some things." 

 

"Well, it's an awful lot of things," said Sirius proudly, clapping Remus on the back. "You could take over from the teacher." 

 

Remus laughed at this and turned to Peter. "Do you know what the time is, Pete?" 

 

Peter huffed. "Do any of you have your own watches?" he said, sighing. "Am I your walking, talking clock?" 

 

James grinned. "Yup. I think you are. But I haven't bothered to find my watch yet. It's at the bottom of my trunk." 

 

"And I'm not wearing mine; it has the Black family crest on it," grumbled Sirius. "I'd look like a right idiot." 

 

"You manage that on your own, mate!" teased James, as Peter gave in and checked his watch. 

 

Sirius rolled his eyes, laughing his usual bark-like laugh. He pushed his dark hair out of his eyes. 

 

"We've got ages 'til the end of break," Peter announced. "So what're we going to do?" 

 

"Beat up Snivellus?" suggested Sirius. 

 

"I think we've done enough of that for one day," said Remus firmly. 

 

"Let's explore!" said James, delighted at the very idea. "The castle's huge and we don't even know where we're going half the time..." 

 

"Ooh, there might be secret passageways," exclaimed Remus, who - like James - was hardly able to contain himself. 

 

Sirius and Peter stood up very straight. 

 

"Well, what are we waiting for?" cried Sirius. "Where shall we go first?"

 

 


 

 

A/N: 

 

Thanks again to all of you for submitting your lovely reviews - it means so much to me that you like what I'm writing. Feel free to tell me if there's anything you don't like, want me to change or think I could use later on. I love hearing your suggestions and want to make this book enjoyable. 

 

I've also been creating some covers for the next few books in the series and have just finished them all... I can't wait to write them properly! There'll be eleven books in total, following the Marauders through their school lives until, eventually, their deaths. 

 

Please keep being brilliant :) 

 

~ Lacy 

 

 

 



Chapter 14: Where to?
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-   Chapter Fourteen   -

 

Where to? 

 

 


"The grounds?" Peter suggested. "The lake looks pretty... We could go there."

 

Sirius and James ignored him.

 

"How about the Forbidden Forest?" said James in an excited whisper. "I heard there are all sorts of creatures in there, like centaurs and acromantula and werewolves-"

 

But Remus stamped on that idea. "Uh, clue's in the title," he said dryly. "The Forbidden Forest. As in, the forest that you're not supposed to go in. Probably because it's... um... dangerous."

 

Sirius groaned. "It can't be that dangerous," he said.

 

Remus raised an eyebrow. "What, with its giant, human-eating spiders and murderous beasts? No, it can't be dangerous at all..."

 

"Oh, all right, we've got the point," said Sirius, folding his arms.

 

They had stopped walking about ten yards from a small, wooden cabin.

 

"So, not the Forbidden Forest then?" asked James, scrunching up his forehead to think.

 

"The lake?" Peter suggested hopefully.

 

"No, that's boring," said James. He glanced around and saw the hut. "Hang on... What's in that hut? D'you reckon someone lives there?"

 

The others followed his gaze. "Probably Hagrid," said Remus lightly, watching a trickle of smoke unfurl from the mossy chimney. "He is the gamekeeper, after all."

 

"Shall we go and visit?" asked Sirius, already starting towards the cabin's front door. He knocked hard on the wood and the sound of muffled barking greeted them, followed by a scrabble of claws.

 

Hagrid's voice rang out from somewhere inside. "Get back, Fang... Back, yeh lazy dog..." He threw open the front door and the boys were faced with his vast body.

 

"Hi, Hagrid," said James loudly, grinning broadly at the surprised look on the gamekeeper's face. "We're first-years. You probably don't know who we are, do you?"

 

Hagrid smiled under his bushy brown beard, his beetle black eyes crinkling at the corners. "No, I don'," he said cheerfully. "But I recognise yeh a bit from the firs' night."

 

"I'm James," said James, as Hagrid stood back to let them inside. "James Potter."

 

Hagrid's eyebrows shot up. "Potter, eh?" he said, closing the door behind them.

 

Immediately, the large black boarhound - who Hagrid quickly introduced as 'Fang' - came bounding up to them and started licking their ears.

 

"Yeh father'll be Fleamont Potter, then?" asked Hagrid, pulling Fang off by the collar. "Inventor o' tha' haircare potion everyone's bin goin' on about?"

 

"Sleekeazy's haircare potion," James corrected him automatically. "And, yes, he is my dad."

 

"Interestin'," said Hagrid. He pulled out some chairs at the large wooden table. "An' who are the others?"

 

"I'm Sirius," said Sirius at once, holding out his hand for Hagrid to shake. He winced slightly as Hagrid shook his whole arm with one of his dustbin-lid-sized hands. "Sirius Black. But I'm not like the rest of my family, I promise."

 

Hagrid looked him up and down, taking in his Gryffindor robes. "I s'pose not," he said at last, gruffly turning to put the kettle on. "Yeh must be the firs' Black teh be put in Gryffindor in... well, it could be forever."

 

"I'm Remus Lupin, Hagrid," said Remus quietly, smiling as Hagrid offered him his hand. "And this is Peter Pettigrew."

 

"Know yer father too," grunted Hagrid to Remus as the kettle billowed thick clouds of white steam. "Great with dark creatures, he is. I never knew the Pettigrews so much, though. I've heard o' them occasionally..." He passed them all a hot mug of tea and they sat down gratefully to drink it.

 

Peter chose that moment to look around the cabin.

 

It was clearly built as a one-roomed house. A large, brightly-quilted bed stood in one corner and several hams had been hung from the ceiling. In the left corner, there sat a basket of wool (Hagrid evidently enjoyed knitting) and next to it was...

 

"Hagrid, what's that?" James asked suddenly, pointing at a wooden crate between the knitting and the table. It was shivering slightly and kept emitting a strange buzzing, like a swarm of angry bees.

 

Hagrid glanced at the spot James was looking at. "Oh, tha'," he said vaguely, waving an enormous hand. "Tha's just a crate o' Doxies. I got 'em a couple o' days ago, jus' before term started. I've been hatching 'em."

 

Remus' eyes widened. "A crate of Doxies, Hagrid?" he asked, peering apprehensively at the crate. If he looked closely, he could just make out a flurry of dark shapes buzzing around within. "Hagrid, you do know that Doxies are venomous, don't you? You're going to have to be careful if you let them out the crate."

 

Hagrid chuckled. "Like father, like son," he said cheerfully, turning his back on the Doxy crate and smiling at Remus through his beard. "An' I know they're venomous," he added. "I got a bottle o' Doxycide in me cupboard."

 

He took a swig from his enormous mug of tea, then looked at them thoughtfully. "How're yeh findin' Hogwarts?" he asked at length. "Been getting teh yer classes all right?"

 

"No," said Sirius at once. "We were late to our first lesson. Then Remus was late for Herbology. But we've enjoyed Hogwarts so far."

 

Hagrid grunted. "Well, tha's something, I s'pose. It's always hard findin' yer way in the firs' week. But it'll get easier, I can promise yeh."

 

"How did you find Hogwarts, Hagrid?" asked Peter timidly, watching Fang, who was drooling all over his knees.

 

Hagrid shifted uncomfortably and glanced towards the back door, where a flowery pink umbrella had been propped. "I- Well, teh tell the truth, I was... I was expelled from Hogwarts in me third year."

 

Remus gasped. "You were expelled?" he whispered. "But why?"

 

Hagrid shifted again and raised his voice. "Look, It's nearly the end o' break. Yeh'd better get goin' teh yer next lesson. It was nice ter meet yeh, but I'll see yeh another time." He stood up and they took the hint to leave, bidding Hagrid goodbye as they began the walk up to the castle.

 

"I wonder what he was expelled for," said James thoughtfully. "I'll write to Dad and ask him. Maybe he'll know." 
 

 

⋆☾⋆

 

 

But Mr Potter didn't know. His answer arrived two days later as the first-years sat down for breakfast. 

 


 

Dear James, (the letter read)

 

Congratulations on being sorted into Gryffindor. And I'm glad you've made some new friends.

 

No, I don't know why Rubeus Hagrid was expelled from Hogwarts, although I seriously don't think you should start trying to find out. Unless Hagrid wants to tell you, you don't have the business to know.

 

Your mother has asked me to tell you to wash your underwear- 

 


 

"Urgh, Mum!" said James, when he read this bit to the others.

 

Sirius laughed. 


 

-and make sure you put on clean socks. I doubt the other boys will thank you for stinking the place out.

 

Have a great rest of the week.

 

 

Lots of love,

 

Dad (and Mum).

 

 

PS: Don't think I haven't noticed that my invisibility cloak's gone missing! 


 

James finished reading, grinned and shook his head at the others. "Oh, well. Dad won't use the cloak, anyway. It'd just be gathering dust if I'd left it at home."

 

"You've got an invisibility cloak?" asked Remus, impressed.

 

James nodded. "Well, yeah. Kind of. It's my dad's at the moment, but he says he'll give it to me eventually. I brought it with me, though, without him knowing. Although I guess he knows now."

 

"Wow, said Remus, who was busy writing a letter to his own parents, something he'd completely forgotten to do until James' letter reminded him.

 

"Aren't invisibility cloaks really rare?" Peter asked, watching James fold up the letter and tuck it neatly into his pocket.

 

"Yeah," said James, shrugging. "They are. Our one's been in my family for ages."

 

"We can use it for sneaking around the castle!" said Sirius excitedly, shovelling scrambled egg into his already-bulging mouth. He chewed for a couple of minutes, then swallowed. "Or playing tricks on people."

 

"We could even use it to spy on conversations," said James, equally as excitedly.

 

A couple of late owls swooped overhead, delivering mail to their owners.

 

"Or we could-" But James stopped speaking very suddenly. A handsome screech owl was flying towards them, with something large and red in its beak.

 

Everyone looked around to see who the red letter was for. 
 


 

A/N:

 

I'll be posting updates on Saturdays, from now on. For now, however, here's a new chapter. It's a bit shorter than usual :)

If you liked it, please feel free to leave your thoughts - thanks!

 

Also, thank you so much to everyone who's reviewed my story so far. This chapter is dedicated to you guys: Some_random_person , Bubbles, HedwiggrangerRavenclawmarauder and EmPotter. <3 

 

~Lacy

 



Chapter 15: The Howler
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-   Chapter Fourteen   - 

 

The Howler

 

 


"Oh, Merlin," Remus whispered, watching in terror as the screech owl soared closer and closer over the heads of the murmuring students.

 

Every other person of wizard descent was looking at the envelope with similar expressions.

 

Sirius suddenly felt as though a very large piece of scrambled egg had lodged itself in his windpipe. He knew exactly who the owl was going to deliver the letter to and he didn't know how to prevent it. He watched, horrified, with everyone else as the owl flew the last couple of meters...

 

And landed directly in front of him.

 

Peter squealed loudly and slopped orange juice all down his front.

 

James looked from Sirius to the red envelope, feeling more alarmed with every second.

 

Remus had dropped his toast on the floor. "Is that a-? Is that a Howler?" he whispered hoarsely as Sirius simply sat there, gazing at the envelope in his hand.

 

The letter began to smoke ominously.

 

James cleared his throat. "Open it," he urged. "Just open it quickly. It'll be over soon."

 

Sirius did as he was told, fingers trembling so much that the entire letter shook.

 

"What's a Howler?" Lily Evans whispered to Frank and Alice. She was one of the few people that looked confused.

 

No one answered her. They were too busy staring at the letter.

 

But a split second later, Lily knew exactly why the letter had been called a Howler. A scream loud enough to burst eardrums had filled the Great Hall, causing many of the spectators to stuff their fingers in their ears.

 

Sirius' mother's voice was issuing from the envelope, screeching about how he'd brought shame on his whole family.

 

"-FILTH, HALFBREEDS, SCUM! CLOGGING UP THE WIZARDING WORLD WITH THEIR UNWORTHY EXISTANCE! AND MY OWN SON HAS JOINED THEIR RANKS LIKE SOME COMMON GOBLIN! I AM DISGUSTED BY YOU!"

 

Sirius winced.

 

"HOW DARE YOU LET YOURSELF BE SORTED INTO A HOUSE OF MUDBLOODS! HOW DARE YOU BRING SUCH SHAME ON US ALL! YOUR FATHER GOT THE NEWS LAST NIGHT - NARCISSA WROTE TO HIM! I NOTICE SHE HASN'T DISGRACED THE FAMILY!"

 

"No," muttered Sirius darkly, casting a scathing look at the Slytherin table. "Darling Narcissa, with her dainty pureblood ways and her perfect manners..."

 

" YOU SHOULD BE SETTING A BETTER EXAMPLE TO YOUR BROTHER, YOU UNWORTHY TRAITOR, YOU REVOLTING LITTLE HAG, YOU FILTHY PIECE OF-!"

 

But Walburga Black's last words were drowned by a storm of laughing from the Slytherin table. Apparently Narcissa Black and her friends found the situation too hilarious for words.

 

James saw Lucius Malfoy slump over on the table, banging his fist and howling with mirth. He rolled his eyes. It wasn't even funny. He didn't think Malfoy'd be laughing if he'd been sent a Howler.

 

As the letter finally exploded into ashes, Sirius stared glumly at his plate of scrambled eggs, wishing more than anything that he could sink into the floor and never be seen again. He didn't know whether to feel miserable or angry. Something heavy seemed to have lodged itself in his stomach, weighing him down as though he was made of lead.

 

Peter, Remus and James were looking at him too, along with the rest of the school, their eyes filled with sympathy and concern.

 

But Sirius turned away from them, unable to face their expressions. He didn't want their pity. It wasn't like they could give him a new family, one that loved him and cared for him and didn't mind that he was in Gryffindor.

 

Over at the Slytherin table, meanwhile, Malfoy was still laughing, imitating the voice of Walburga between evil-sounding snorts. 

 

Hatred burned like fire in Sirius' stomach. He turned back to his own table, keeping his eyes on his abandoned plate of egg, trying to act cool and unbothered... 

 

"Sirius, mate?" James had spoken first, his voice low, unable to bear the pain of watching his friend any longer. "Are you-?" He glanced at Remus and Peter, unsure what to do. 

 

Then a hand, cool and slightly scarred, found its way to Sirius' shoulder. "Come on, Sirius. Let's get out of here." 

 

The four boys stood up and began to walk down the aisle between the house tables. Peter led the way, with James and Remus walking on either side of Sirius. 

 

A couple of people still stared at them as they left, but Remus' hand stayed on Sirius' shoulder. 

 

And, for that, Sirius was grateful. 

 

"Let's find somewhere quiet," said Remus to James, leading his friend up the marble staircase. 

 

They took refuge in an empty classroom on the first floor. James, Remus and Peter perched on the end of a desk, watching Sirius closely. 

 

Sirius groaned and massaged his temples. Some of the feeling was beginning to return to his limbs. "Thanks, guys," he said finally. "I'm okay, honestly. I just..." He slumped. "Yeah." 

 

"We don't care what your family think of you," said James firmly, sliding off the desk to stand next to Sirius. "We like you no matter what." 

 

Sirius smiled faintly. He felt better. "Cheers, mate." 

 

Remus and Peter slid off the desk too. 

 

"I hate Howlers," said Peter, picking at his chin and scuffling his feet. "They're horrible." 

 

"Yeah," agreed James. "It's one thing when you've done wrong, but another when a dirty great envelope turns up and starts shouting at you." 

 

Remus laughed. "Sometimes I envy the muggles." 

 

Even though he knew his parents hadn't finished with him yet, Sirius grinned back at his friends. "I know. It's so much more convenient to have your parents lecture you face-to-face." He crossed to the classroom door and pulled it open. "C'mon. Let's go back to the common room. We've got Potions next." 

 

Potion lessons were held in the deepest part of the school: the dungeons. 

 

 

 

After collecting their bags from Gryffindor tower, the four boys made their way down the stone steps to their classroom. 

 

Peter kept tripping in the gloom. 

 

"It's spooky down here," admitted Remus, clutching the strap of his bag more tightly. 

 

"Yeah," said James. He gazed around at the place they'd emerged in. Torchlight shivered over the dark, stone walls. 

 

"Hello," said an unfamiliar voice next to them. A blonde-haired Gryffindor girl had come over to introduce herself. "You boys have had an eventful week or so, haven't you?" She pushed a strand of hair behind her ears and looked at them, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "First, you were late, then there was that thing with the Slytherins... And this morning, there was that Howler. I'm Marlene, by the way," added the girl. "Marlene McKinnon."

 

James, Remus, Peter and Sirius looked at her. She oozed confidence and mischief, but she didn't seem to be unfriendly. 

 

"Uh, hi," said James at last. "I'm James Potter. And these are my friends - Sirius Black, Remus Lupin and Peter Pettigrew." 

 

The girl laughed. "Nice to meet you. My friend's over there." She gestured over her shoulder to a brown-haired girl standing nervously against a wall. "She's Mary. Mary MacDonald." 

 

Sirius waved at Mary. 

 

Mary, looking incredibly shy with her large brown eyes, gave him a very small wave back. 

 

Sirius grinned broadly and cupped his hands around his mouth to shout across the dungeon. "Hi, Mary! I'm Sirius! Why don't you come over and say hello?" 

 

Remus tugged on Sirius' sleeve. "Leave her alone, you moron. She's terrified of you." 

 

But although Mary did indeed look terrified, she inched her way across the room to talk to them. 

 

Marlene threw her arm around her. "Hey, Mary! See, I told you the boys aren't scary." 

 

Mary blushed crimson. 

 

"We're really not," said Sirius, still looking maddeningly cheerful. "We might look intimidating, but we don't bite." He winked at Mary. "Much." 

 

Mary blushed even harder. 

 

"Sirius, stop," said Remus firmly, looking sympathetically at Mary. "I've already told you to leave the poor girl alone. She doesn't need your weird personality." 

 

Sirius pretended to glare at Remus. "Oi! Watch who you're calling weird, Lupin!" 

 

At this moment, the dungeon door opened and a vast stomach appeared. A velvet-waistcoated man proceeded it, a man with silvery hair and a drooping walrus moustache. 

 

His booming voice echoed around the dungeons, bouncing off the torch-lit, stone walls. “Welcome, welcome! Welcome to your first potions lesson. If you would like to step inside and find a table…”

 

The class did as they were told, squeezing past the professor into the classroom.

 

James, Sirius, Peter and Remus found a table to themselves at the back of the room.

 

All around them, strange things floated in jars, brightly-coloured feathers lay on shelves and boxes were labelled with ‘snake fangs’ and ‘powdered root of asphodel’. The blackboard at the front of the class said ‘Professor H. E. F. Slughorn, potions master and head of Slytherin house.’

 

Once the whole class had settled and taken out their things, Professor Slughorn turned to look at them all.

 

To James, the teacher looked like an overgrown walrus - a walrus with a taste for velvet smoking jackets.

 

“Oho!” said Slughorn as he studied their faces. “Why don’t we start by taking the register?”

 

He began to read out the names, ticking them off and occasionally pausing to address a student. “...Ah, Avery, your parents were excellent students… Another Black, hmm? Pity you’re in Gryffindor… Lyall Lupin was never much of a potioneer, I’m afraid… Potter? Oho! Your father still makes his potions... A Snape? Your mother Eileen married a muggle, did she not? Pity, pity. She was one of the best I ever taught. Such a waste of talent...”

 

On and on it went, until Slughorn finally called the last name. He stood up from his desk with a loud creak - the buttons on his waistcoat strained a little - and hurried to the blackboard.

 

“So. Potion-making. Who can tell me the ingredients of a shrinking solution?”

 

One person put their hand up, while the rest of the class just sat there blankly.

 

James and Sirius were infuriated to see that the one person was Snape.

 

Slughorn looked a bit surprised himself that a first-year knew the answer to his question, but he nodded at Snape anyway. “Go on, Mr…?”

 

“Snape, Professor,” said Snape curtly, his thin mouth twisting into a smirk. “Severus Snape.”

 

“Oho!” said Slughorn, looking delighted. “Of course! How could I forget? Well, then. What’s your answer?”

 

Snape took a breath then said very fast, “Shrivelfig, caterpillars, daisy roots, rat spleen, cowbane, leech juice and wormwood.” He stopped, slightly breathless, looking up at Slughorn.

 

James sniggered behind his hand and Lily Evans turned in her seat to give him a particularly nasty look.

 

There was a moment’s pause.

 

“Quite right,” said Slughorn, an expression of impressed amazement crossing his face. “Very good, Severus! Those are all ingredients in the common potion known as the ‘shrinking solution’. I assume you know what the potion does?”

 

Looking bored, Snape leaned on his elbow. “Well, it shrinks things, doesn’t it?” he said, with the air of explaining that one plus one equals two. “And, in the case of animals and people, it reverts them back to their youthful forms.”

 

Peter glanced blankly at Remus.

 

He wasn’t the only one who didn’t understand. A couple of Slytherins at the front of the classroom, all of whom were big and thuggish, were shaking their heads.

 

Slughorn, however, was staring at Snape as though he was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen. “Yes, it does do that. Again, you’re quite right. Take ten points for Slytherin! And it’s clear as day that you’ve inherited your mother’s talent!”

 

Beside Snape, Lily looked immensely proud. She squeezed his hand and whispered, “Well done!” in his ear.

 

Snape merely smirked.

 

James snorted with disgust. “The slimy little git…” he muttered, clenching his fists under the table.

 

Remus put one hand on his arm. “Just leave him. He isn’t doing anything wrong.”

 

But James ignored him. In his opinion, Snape had done something very wrong. Even the idiot’s existence was a crime.

 

Slughorn set them to work brewing a simple potion to cure boils. While he said it was simple, however, many of the students still had a lot of difficulty with it.

 

Within ten minutes, Peter’s potion had turned murky brown, Marleen McKinnon was frantically trying to put out the sleeve of her robes - which had set on fire - and Remus’ cauldron was emitting bright purple sparks.

 

“Oh, dear,” he said as he hopped on the spot, squinting through the sparks in an attempt to see the blackboard. “I haven’t done this right, have I? Was I supposed to add a dash of leech juice? What does ‘a dash of leech juice’ even mean? It’s not very definite…”

 

James looked up from his cauldron, which wasn’t quite the recommended thickness. “I think you just have to estimate,” he told Remus. “That’s what I did and I think mine’s turned out okay… It’s a bit runny, but at least it’s the right colour.”

 

“How do I correct this?” Remus whispered urgently to James, as his cauldron made an alarming popping noise.

 

Slughorn was approaching to examine their potions, getting nearer and nearer…

 

“Sorry, I don’t know,” James whispered back, stirring his potion in the hope that it would thicken. It didn’t.

 

The potion master’s loud voice boomed out to them. “And how are you four getting on? All right?”

 

“No,” said Peter, looking slightly irritable. “It’s going terribly.”

 

Slughorn chuckled and leaned over to ladle up some of Peter’s potion. He winced as it splashed back into the cauldron, still a horrible brown.”I see. Oh, dear. Not to worry, m’boy, I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it soon… Oh, Merlin!”

 

He had spotted Remus’ potion.

 

Remus stepped away from it as Slughorn approached, eager to get away from the dangerous-looking sparks.

 

Slughorn frowned as he peered into the cauldron. “What did you do?” he asked Remus, shaking his head and tutting.

 

“Er… I don’t know, sir,” Remus admitted, watching the cauldron emit another loud pop. Some more sparks shot out of it, narrowly missing Slughorn’s drooping moustache. “I got confused when I read the bit about the leech juice. What does it mean by ‘a dash’?”

 

His silver hair gleaming, Professor Slughorn glanced up and squinted in the direction of the blackboard. He read the instructions a couple of times and sighed. “Looks like you forgot the daisy roots,” he said. “And, yes, the leech juice seems to have been measured out wrongly. Maybe next time you’ll get it right…”

 

He moved away, leaving Remus alone by his cauldron, still looking doubtful. “But how much leech juice is ‘a dash’?” he hissed, watching Slughorn examine Sirius’ cauldron.

 

James and Peter merely shrugged.

 

Remus sighed. Then he smiled. “I don’t think Potions is my strong point,” he said cheerfully. 

 

 


 

 

A/N: 

 

Thank you so much for all your support! You are honestly the best and I still can’t believe that this story has been given ten new reviews since the last update! 
 

Shout out to Charlie_Lupin who is working on a new fan fiction - please check it out; I’m sure the support would be appreciated <3 

 

I’m also working on some character aesthetics, which I’ll be posting soon. 

 

Thanks again for reading! More dedications will come in the next chapter :) 



Chapter 16: Character Aesthetics
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I made these recently and I hope you like them :) 

 

I'm also working on the next chapter, so stay tuned. See you on Saturday! 

 

 

 

 

James Potter