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James Potter and the Pureblood Assassin by Anamarie

Format: Short story
Chapters: 3
Word Count: 6,436
Status: WIP

Rating: 12+
Warnings: Mild Language

Genres: General
Characters: Lupin, Snape, Sirius, Lily, James, OC
Pairings:

First Published: 08/28/2004
Last Chapter: 07/04/2005
Last Updated: 08/27/2005

Summary:


     
It's James Potter's first year at Hogwarts, and he has no idea what he's getting into. With the help of his close friend Sirius and a few new acquaintances, James's preconcieved notions about the importance of being "Pureblood" will be shattered. Will James have the strength to grow up enough to deal with this new world, flaws and all?


Chapter 1: Official Wizard
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Chapter One: Official Wizard


The Potter's house was almost fully isolated, nestled into a small hollow between a couple of grassy hills. Few people ever saw it in their lifetime, and the few people who did had lived there for decades. A single dirt road led through a pass to the outside world, but it was seldom used and had almost fully grown over with grass and shrubbery. It was a regal house, a beautifully constructed masterpiece of decoration and construction. It had been around for over two hundred years, but appeared to be surprisingly well kempt for its impressive age.

It was an extraordinary house, and befittingly, it belonged to an extraordinary family that had kept it and cherished it for generations: the Potter family.

The Potters were wizards; and from as far back as the family tree could discover, they had always been wizards. Nothing so shameful as being otherwise had ever even occurred to the Potters. They were purebloods, and quite comfortable in their status, to a point where they almost took it for granted.

The current generation of Potters only had two children, a boy and a girl, ages nearly-eleven and thirteen, respectively. They made an ideal family; four people living happily in the luxury that they had inherited from their ancestors. The current living Potters consisted of the mother, Roerva; the father, Edward; the son, James; and the daughter, Katherine. And they were all wizards.

Except for James. James, almost turned eleven, hadn't yet received his acceptance letter to the respected wizarding boarding school, Hogwarts. He knew that he was a wizard; he already knew how to perform some minor spells with his father's wand and was able to complete them satisfactorily enough to prove that he did indeed have magical power, but he wasn't official.

Katherine, often called Katie by the members of the family other than her mother, squandered no opportunities to tease her little brother about the fact. "Oh James!" she'd often call up the enormous staircase. "Breakfast is ready! All the real witches and wizards are already down here enjoying it!"

Her mocking never failed to bring tiny James bounding down the stairs, a scowl on his face and his cheeks red with resentment.

Breakfast-time at the Potters was typically a quiet affair, quiet, that is, until the morning owl flew in from the kitchen window.

Katie grasped the bird in midair and pulled the envelopes off its feet. She shuffled through the mail, grinning slightly as she read aloud what they contained. "Father's got a message from Mr. Malfoy, Mother's got that recipe from the Blacks that she's been wanting, and Edith finally sent me that thing I've been asking for… but nothing for poor ickle Jamesie-poo."

James' face fell. "No letter from Hogwarts?"

"Nope, no letter from Hogwarts. I'll bet you're a squib!" Katie cackled.

The slap came across her face so fast she didn't even hear it coming. "Don't ever suggest such a thing again," Father said harshly, his cold voice echoing in the huge room.

Everybody froze, unsure of how to react to Father's outburst. An icy silence blanketed the table, arresting the words and actions of the family. Timidly, Katie broke the silence with a quiet voice.

"Yes, Father."

Mother smiled softly and took the mail out of Katie's hands. She shuffled through the contents that Katie had described, but paused when she reached an envelope with ornate green script on the front. "Oh dear, Katie, there is a letter for your brother!"

James raised his head and a grin spread across his face. He reached his hand across the table for the letter, grabbed it quickly, and happily read the writing on the front.

Mr. J. Potter
The Third Bedroom to the Right
Godric's Hollow


He quickly tore open the letter, ignoring Katie's scowl. He read over the words, a grin spreading slowly across his face. "You've been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry…"

"Congratulations, darling," Mother said lovingly. She glanced meaningfully at Katie. "It's official."

"It's official," murmured James incredulously. "I'm official!"

He stood up so quickly that he knocked his thighs against the table and ran over to hug Mother.

"Guess what, Daddy? You get to take me to Diagon Alley now, you promised!" James hopped up and down excitedly.

"I promised I'd take you on your eleventh birthday, and that isn't for another two weeks," Father smiled. "But… I think I'll make an exception. Just this once."

Katie poked her food with her fork. "Can I come?" she said, almost inaudibly.

Mother answered for her. "Of course you can. We're all going! Let's make a day of it."

Father nodded. "We'll have a day just for our family. We haven't had one of those in a long while."

Katie smiled. She knew her father had forgiven her for what she'd said earlier, and she forgave him for the slap. After all, it would be something awfully shaming, for the entire family, to have had James be a squib.

* * * *


It was the first time James had set foot in the Leaky Cauldron. He swivelled his head from side to side, trying to take it all in. It was so different from anything in the wizarding world that he'd ever experienced. The loud shouting, the dingy walls, the sticky tables and the dim lighting. It's a whole different world out here, he thought.

Father put a protective hand on his children's shoulders, steering them through the chaos. Katie acted bored and nonchalant, as though she'd seen the scene so many times that she was jaded from it.

Finally, they escaped the mess of the pub and emerged in a brightly lit alley with a brick wall in front of them.

James looked confused. "Is this Diagon Alley?"

Mother smiled comfortingly. "Almost, darling. We'll let you do the honours, James."

Father reached for James' small right hand and placed it over his own large wand-hand. Together, the two hands clasping the same wand, they tapped a seemingly random series of bricks on the wall.

Father smiled as they tapped the last brick. James stepped backwards, disbelieving, as the bricks moved and separated to reveal an archway into a busy street of buildings and shops.

"Welcome," Father said. "To Diagon Alley." He paused for effect. "Once you cross the threshold of this archway, you are a true wizard." He stepped across, as though to prove his point. Mother followed. Katie snorted at the childish ceremony, but stepped across as well.

James was left alone on the Muggle side of the archway. He inched forward, aware of the magnitude of each of his steps. Soon there was only one more to go… his left toe touched the brown cobblestone of Diagon Alley, and Mother and Father let out a mighty cheer. Father ushered him into the hustle and bustle of the street, patting his son on his back in congratulations.

"All we have left to do now is get you a wand and you'll be an official wizard, son."


* * * *


They walked out of Flourish and Blotts an hour later, a wheelbarrow full of shiny new schoolbooks for both children. James held A Standard Book of Spells, Grade One in his grasp, poring eagerly over the many spells.

"Look, Father, a spell to make your skin turn colours!" James squealed excitedly.

"And what possible use could that be?" drawled Katie, absolutely bored to tears of the whole ordeal. "Camouflage yourself so that you could hide in the Forest and not get bloodied up by seventh years?"

James was ready to spit out a nasty retort, but paused as he looked up. He found himself staring at the sad face of a small redheaded girl. She was gazing forlornly at the owls in the window of Eeylops, clutching a set of dingy, used schoolbooks that had certainly not been well cared-for.

James tapped his mother on the shoulder. "That girl, Mother, she looks lost, don't you think?"

Mother turned around quickly and followed her son's pointing finger. "James, darling, what girl?"

James looked up into his mother's face. "The red-haired one, she has very bright red hair."

Mother sighed. "I don't see any girl, honey."

James looked anxiously back at the window to Eeylops, but the little girl was gone. "She was just there…"

Katie snorted. "Look, Father, not only is the little prat brainless, he's hallucinating as well!"

Father placed a heavy hand on Katie's shoulder. "Stop harassing your brother, Katherine, he hasn't done anything to you."

"He hasn't done anything to me today."

Father chuckled. "True." He turned to his son. "James, how would you like to get your wand next?"

James lit up with excitement. "Would I ever!" He dropped the Standard Book of Spells into the wheelbarrow and grabbed his father's hand, pulling him fiercely towards Ollivanders. Father called back to Mother, "Take Katie to Madam Malkins and see if you can find one of her friends, I'll take care of this one!"

They soon reached a narrow, shabby little shop sandwiched between two large emporiums. The front of the shop was distinctly unimpressive; it displayed a dark, dirty door and a window that looked like it hadn't been cleaned since the shop had opened. James tried to open the door, but found, to his surprise, that it was locked tight. He tugged on the door, but it wouldn't budge.

James turned to Father. "What's happening, how come we can't get in?"

"Well, the space for customers is very small, so Mr Ollivander wisely lets in only one customer and family at a time. I suppose there is already someone in there."

"How come we can't go in and wait in there?" James whined impatiently.

"Because it's dangerous!"

"Dangerous?"

Father sighed. "You'll understand better when we get you your wand."

James scowled. He pressed his face up to the window, trying to see what was going on inside. The darkness of the shop combined with the dirty window didn't let him see much beyond occasional sparks. Finally, after what seemed like an hour, although Father claimed it was closer to five minutes, a warm, bright light filled the shop. The door opened and released a dazed first year, clutching a white wand tightly in her first.

Father quickly pushed James through the door. It shut ominously behind them, leaving them to rely on the dim lamp on Mr Ollivander's desk for light.

Mr Ollivander smiled. "Hello, Edward Potter, and your son…"

"James," Father supplied. "James Edward Potter. He's going to be a first year."

"I see." Mr Ollivander reached a wrinkly hand under his desk and pulled out three boxes, motioning to James to open them. Tentatively, James reached for the darkest box and pulled out a light-coloured stick of wood.

"Maple," Mr Ollivander said tonelessly. "Ten inches long. Swishy. Give it a wave, Master Potter." The venerable wand-maker smiled at Father as James waved the wand to no effect. "And how has your wand been working for you, Edward? Thirteen inches, rosewood, if I'm not mistaken?"

"You never are, sir, you never are."

Mr Ollivander nodded, expressionless, and pushed another box at James "Twelve inches, oak, with a unicorn tail hair. Useful for curses. “James picked up the wand and swung it around aimlessly. Father grabbed his hand. "No, son. Quick, steady, purposeful movements. Like this." Father guided James' hand and pointed it at a vase, then jabbed the air quickly. The vase shattered.

Mr Ollivander chuckled and pushed another thin box at James, then continued to talk to Father. "And how is your wife? Roerva, correct? She bought her wand at Gallinger's, in Hertfordshire, if I'm not mistaken."

"Right again on all accounts, Ollivander."

The two adults turned to James as forty wandboxes jumped off the shelves and flew towards them like spears. Mr Ollivander took the wand away from James, causing the boxes to fall to the ground, and used his own to lift the boxes back up.

Ollivander shook his head. "You're going to be a tricky one, I can already tell. Quite a temper you've got there, and you're a bit mischievous too."

James grinned happily.

"We're going to have to go into the back of the shop for you, my dear boy," as he said this, Ollivander whisked himself away to the storage area in the back. He pulled out three dusty boxes, piled them on top of one another, and brought them out, setting them on the desk. James reached for the one on top, but Mr Ollivander stopped him and placed his hand over a box that was coloured a brilliant red. "Try this one first."

James pulled the top off the box to reveal a long, skinny wand of a light reddish colour.

"Holly," supplied Mr Ollivander, his eyes focused intently on James holding the wand. "Eleven inches, a phoenix feather core…"

James waved it purposefully, but nothing happened, not even sparks.

Mr Ollivander nodded briskly, grabbed the wand out of James' hand, placed it into the box and shoved it back on a shelf, out of sight.

"We'll give this next one a go, then, Master Potter." He handed James a greyish box. James opened it and pulled out a dark reddish stick of wood. His fingers tingled eerily as he held it, looking to Mr Ollivander for further instructions.

"Mahogany, eleven inches, dragon heartstring core. Very good for transfiguration. Give it a wave."

James complied, and was rewarded with a warm glow throughout his body. A soft yellow light came from his wand, lighting up the dim walls around them.

Mr Ollivander nodded gravely. "That's the one, Master Potter. Will you be paying now, then?"

Father walked up to Ollivander's desk to pay, while James stood in the middle of the room, staring incredulously at his wand. His very first wand that was all his own. Not Father's, not Katie's, just his.

James grasped it tightly and proudly as Father led him out the door.



Chapter 2: The Face in the Window
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Chapter Two: The Face in the Window


The weeks until his birthday crawled by as though on the back of a snail. James read through his textbooks, poring over each word and new spell that he learned with a concentration that he rarely afforded to anything. His family and the law forbade him to do any magic, so he tried to make up for it by reading about the things he could do if he, hypothetically, had been allowed to. His wand sat in a stand on his bedside table, and often during his reading James would gaze at it hopelessly, wishing that he could put it to good use transfiguring Katie into a Horklump.

But finally the day arrived. James half expected trumpets to sound with the rise of the sun, but no such pomp was awarded to the day. He awoke slowly to the smell of a rich breakfast being cooked downstairs. He lay in bed for a while, staring at the carved decorated ceiling above his four-poster. At last he heard Katie's high-pitched voice calling him down to eat. He bounded out of his bed, still in his pyjamas, and dashed down the carpeted stairway until he reached the kitchen.

His family stood cheerfully around the table in their annual fashion, even Katie forced a smile at the sight of James. The happy scene was brightly lit from the picture window across from the table. As per tradition, a gargantuan mound of scrambled eggs were piled high in the middle of the table, eleven candles burning brightly on top of them. He sat down at his place at the table and the rest of the family followed suit.

James looked to his father for confirmation, who smiled and nodded. James closed his eyes and leaned towards the pile of eggs, breathing deeply in the birthday-associated smell of melting wax. Then, with a melodramatic whoosh of air, James made his wish and blew out the candles. He kept his eyes closed for a moment, savouring the sounds of his family clapping and hooting for him.

He opened them and smiled. He looked out the window at the beautiful gardens planted there, lit by the generous sunlight of a summer morning. But James also noticed something else; in the lower right corner of the window was a small bit of fuzzy black hair, above a single barely visible eye that was gazing intently at the food on the table. James smiled and waved, causing the eye to widen and drawing Katie's attention to the window as well. Luckily, before she had the chance to respond, James dashed out of the dining room and outside, grinning broadly all the while.

Just as he had suspected, a small forlorn figure was sitting on the garden wall, absentmindedly plucking petals off of a flower.

"Sirius!" James called out. "Thought you'd surprise me for my birthday, did you!"

The small black-haired boy looked up and raised an eyebrow. "It's your birthday?" He brushed some petals off of his lap. "No, I just felt like seeing a friendly face. I haven't talked to you since the last party your parents hosted."

James frowned. "What's happened to your mirror, then?"

Sirius leaned over and rested his elbows on his knees. "What do you think? Confiscated, just like the other ones. It's hopeless, James. I just don't fit in with my family!" He stood up and scuffed his foot on the ground.

"Sirius, they're your family. You know how important family is!"

"Family, important? Don't try and feed me that bullocks, James. I don't care who my family is, I only care who I am."

James opened his mouth to say something else, but Sirius held a hand up to stop him. "Don't. I came over here for a friend, but it's quite obvious you're on their side." He brushed his hair out of his eyes and started to walk away.

James grabbed the back of his shirt. "Wait, don't go yet. Come inside and have some breakfast. My mum makes the best stuff for birthdays."

Sirius sighed, but it was apparent that the idea tempted him. "Yeah, all right."

* * * *

The Potters, used to by now the random appearances of the Black child, welcomed him with open arms and generous table. Katie seemed a bit miffed at the appearance of one of her brother's childish friends, but tolerated his presence only because it was James's birthday. The rest of the family was quite attentive to the child. Edward Potter in particular asked questions of Sirius, inquiring about his family and activities.

It was he who finally posed the question that had been at the forefront of all of their minds. "So, Sirius, what brings you over here this time?"

Sirius scowled. "It's, er, sort of a long story."

James prodded his friend with his elbow. "We've got time."

Even Katie leaned in with interest as Sirius began.

"Well, Regulus was annoying me, the little prat, as usual." The Potters nodded, they were familiar with the tension between the brothers. "My parents were hosting a small get-together for our family and the Malfoy family, along with their son, who finds himself to be perfection itself, not helped by the fact that he just graduated university. Although, everyone knows the only reason he made it was because his father bribed the teachers to pass him…"

James's mother coughed, "Go on with the story, dear."

Sirius sighed and continued, "And, anyway, as I said, Regulus was annoying me, and I felt it only proper to repay him as I saw fit," he smirked as if laughing at his own genius. "So I strategically placed a partially-filled water balloon on the chair that he was meant to sit…" he coughed, as if to illustrate a climactic pause. "But the guests arrived and the chair was borrowed without permission by Lucius."

"With disastrous results, I assume?" asked Mother.

Sirius sighed at the failure of his prank. "My mum didn't even ask whether or not it was me before punishing me for ruining their dinner." He laid his head on the table, narrowly missing a plate of half-eaten eggs.

James struggled to contain his giggles, but his father's disapproving stare was enough to freeze the sounds in his throat. He whispered something in Sirius's ear. Sirius sat up and breathed a quick, "Thanks for the breakfast, Mrs Potter!" before dashing up the staircase behind James.

Katie snorted. "Boys."

* * * *

James half-dragged his best friend up the stairway to his room, eager to show off his new books and wand.

Sirius, however, acted unimpressed. "We got all my stuff weeks ago. It's been sitting in my drawer, gathering dust."

James gave him a baffled look. "You aren’t the least bit excited about going to Hogwarts?"

Sirius scoffed. "Excited? Oh, yes, so excited to be contained in the same building, possibly even the same house, as my awful cousins and their insufferable…"

"Yeah, yeah. I get the point." James interrupted. He sighed. Then, in typical pre-adolescent boy fashion, he shifted his attention to a couple of dangerous-looking chunks of wood. "Up for a game?"

Sirius grinned and grabbed the largest one. "I think the question is, are you?" He ducked as James swung his weapon around, narrowly missing Sirius's head.

They raced out to the back garden, oblivious to anything but their mock-fighting.

However, the Potters hardly noticed the "battle" screams and demolition of the yard. James's parents and sister were clustered around the wireless, listening intently to the Wizard's News Network.

An authoritative voice boomed out of the speakers, filling the room despite the device's small size. "Hello, wizarding community! I greet you today from Diagon Alley Square as your newly elected Minister for Magic. I assure you that my reign, er, my term as Minister will be one full of jubilation for our listening witches and wizards!" A deafening roar of cheering was heard in the background of the speech. The Minister continued. "First of all, I plan to reinstate important legislation that will ensure the longevity of the wizarding population! Traditions will be strengthened, and new traditions will be created. As Minister of Magic, I plan to take my job seriously! I will raise up those who do great deeds in creating a strong magical community, and condemn those who threaten our livelihoods! I will not let Muggles and their kin intrude upon our world or contemplate us as slaves!" The roar grew so loud that even the Minister's booming voice was lost for a short time. "…forever! For a wizarding world that's safe and clean, you have Gerald MacLean!"

Edward endured some static before turning the knob to the off position. He turned to his wife. "What do you think he could mean by 'Muggles and their kin'?"

Roerva looked a bit unnerved. "As in a Mu --" Roerva caught her breath as she noticed that her thirteen-year-old daughter was right next to her. "…the opposite of what he considers a 'true' wizard, a pureblood."

Katie grinned. "Like we are, of course."

Edward nodded. "Yes, we are pureblood, and proud of it. But this Minister…" he shook his head. "He speaks of 'condemning' them."

Katie looked confused. "We don't associate with Mudbloods, why should we care about them?"

Roerva opened her eyes wide, aghast at her daughter's language. "Dear, we don't use such words in this household."

Edward stepped in to answer his daughter. "We care because they have no less magical ability than you or I and comprise most of our working force. However, we can wait and see where this is headed." Edward's voice wavered a bit. "It sounds as though he's just boasting for the press, nothing to fret about."

"At any rate, our family and all those we care about are safe," Roerva said comfortingly, draping an arm around her daughter and bringing her in with a motherly hug.

Edward didn't echo this statement. He stared at the silent wireless, his eyes glazing over in distracted thought.

A loud crash sounded from the backyard. Roerva started. "Katie, dear, would you tell your brother to please stop destroying the garden?"

Katie grumbled an affirmative and trudged to the door.

Roerva moved closer to her husband, who was still deep in thought. She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "Edward?"

Edward shook his head softly, snapping out of his musing. He managed a small smile. "At least the Potters will always be safe."


Chapter 3: Professors Get Shorter Every Year
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Chapter Three: Professors Get Shorter Every Year


The morning of September 1st dawned bright and cheery. James opened his eyes to sun streaming in and illuminating his neatly packed trunk, catching the reflection of the silver fastenings that held it closed. The eleven-year old pushed aside his thick plush comforter and swung his legs over the bed until his feet rested gently on the hardwood floor. He rubbed his eyes and yawned, shaking his head to dispel the remaining lethargy of a good night's sleep. His owl hooted gently to welcome him to the waking world. He looked around his room as if to reacquaint himself with his surroundings. Window, side table, alarm clock, packed trunk…

James stood up quickly as though a firecracker had been lit. Today was the day! He eagerly divested of his pyjamas and grabbed his uniform from where it had been hanging. Shirt, tie, and then last of all, robes pulled over his head, James surveyed himself in the mirror with satisfaction. "A true wizard…" he murmured.

He paused for a moment before grabbing his trunk and pulling it out of the room. It 'thunk'ed loudly as he dragged it down the steps of the stairway, James paying no heed to the fragility of its contents. His excited ruckus aroused the rest of the household. Katie Potter poked her head out of her doorway, blearily gazing at her younger brother in annoyance. James smiled broadly, and Katie shook her head, thoroughly exasperated.

"James, we don't have to leave for another hour."

James's exhilaration deflated. He pulled his trunk down one more step until it rested calmly on the bottom of the stairway and sighed. He sank down onto it, his head in his hands, patiently prepared to wait for that last little bit of time.

* * * *

After inhaling a very quick breakfast of banana waffles and a glass of orange juice, it was finally time to leave. The Potter parents had argued about whether to take the car or to Floo, but decided that since the train would be leaving in just about half an hour, it would be safer to take the quicker route. James scowled; he'd always disliked the messiness and uncertainty of travelling by Floo, but did not voice his complaint. Any mode of transportation was a mode of transportation, even one that left soot covering your clothing. Luckily, he'd taken off his robe and placed it in his trunk, both to keep it clean and avert suspicion when among Muggles.

Katie went first, tossing her handful into the fire and stepping cautiously into it. "Eusten Road!" She disappeared with a pop.

Roerva poured a bit of the powder into James's open hand. "Now, dear, the Floo network will let you out right down the street from the station. Just follow your sister and your father and I will Apparate with your owls and trunks in a moment."

Nervously, James threw the powder into the fire, stepping back slightly as it flashed into a bright green. With his mother urging him on, he stepped carefully into the fire.

"Don't forget to tell it where to go!" Roerva called out nervously.

Just in time, James remembered to shout out his destination and off he went. He held his arms close to his sides as he spun dizzily through the network. Fireplaces of all sorts flashed by as he travelled the long distance to London. Finally, he slowed to a stop, coughing soot out of his throat as he stepped out of the fireplace.

He surveyed his new surroundings with interest. On either side of him were dark, dingy brick walls that soared upwards for maybe four storeys. The ground below him was covered with debris, dirt, and thousands of footsteps, clear evidence that this was a route well-travelled. It was about a metre across and four metres until it ended at a busy street, cars and people passing by quickly without a second glance. They never seemed to notice a small boy standing alone in a dark back-alley, which he supposed was a very good thing.

"James!" a voice called. James looked around wildly, unable to identify the source. Suddenly, Katie appeared in the alley, looking rather flustered. "Mum and dad are already out here, what are you doing still in there!"

James shrugged sheepishly and walked out towards the street. As soon as he reached the end of the alleyway, something very odd happened; he heard a light 'woosh' noise and turned back around to find that the entrance of the alley was now camouflaged by a wall that blended inconspicuously with the buildings on either side. No wonder no one had paid any attention to him while he had been standing there!

Luckily for James, who was now rolling along his trunk with his owl on top while his parents chatted among themselves, the station was less than a block away. His mother and father directed him and Katie through the maze of platforms until they reached the platforms '9' and '10'.

Roerva smiled at her children. "Here we are!" she kissed each of them on the top of their heads. "James, Katie knows what to do, follow her. Don't be afraid to run into it if you get nervous. If you run into trouble, don't talk to Muggles; find one of our own to help you." She looked around to make sure that attention was diverted away from her, then Disapparated with a quiet 'pop!'.

Edward placed a hand on James's shoulder. "Now, son, in order to get through, you have to close your eyes and trust it. Watch Katie."

She backed up, aimed her cart at the barrier, and, clenching her eyes shut, dashed forward at full speed. Silently, she slipped through the solid brick and was lost from view.

"Now take your turn," Edward said encouragingly.

James steeled himself. He couldn't believe that he was about to willingly run, headfirst, into a brick wall. He clenched his eyes tightly, just as Katie had done, and began to sprint towards the wall.
His owl squawked and James opened an eye to see if he had made it through or not. He hadn't! The brick wall was still there, less then a foot away. He was going to crash!

With a loud thunk and a crash and another complaint from his owl, his prediction came true. Tears rolled down his face as he fell to the ground. It wasn't letting him in, maybe he wasn't a wizard, he was a Squib, it was all a great mistake…

Edward rushed forward and waved away the watching Muggles with a quick, "It's my son, please go on." He grabbed the boy's shoulders and lifted him up until he was standing.

"James, no crying. You have got to be a man now, and I will not stand for this." Lovingly, Edward wiped a tear from James's cheek. He lowered his voice, "You must trust yourself."

James wiped tears from his eyes with the back of his hand and nodded.

Edward gave his son a shake. "If you don't trust yourself, then you can't trust anybody. You have to try again." He pushed James towards his cart. "Keep your eyes closed this time."

James grabbed the cart and pulled it back. He breathed in deeply to calm himself, then closed his eyes and wrapped his hands tightly around the handle. He ran towards the barrier full tilt, his head down and his hands sweating.

Suddenly, there was a change in the atmosphere. The noise was different, the sounds of hundreds of happy kids chattering among themselves surrounded him. He cracked open an eye and saw the teeming masses of children dressed in various degrees of uniform. He stood in awe for a few moments, the huge scarlet engine of the Hogwarts' Express presenting a dramatic backdrop to the crowd. He breathed a sigh of relief as Katie waved him over to where he was supposed to leave his trunk.

As he dropped his trunk and owl off, he felt a tap on his left shoulder. He swivelled his head quickly to that side, but saw no one. Automatically, he looked over his right shoulder and saw his best friend doubled over in laughter.

"Sirius!" James threw up his hands in frustration. He scowled as Sirius stood up straight, still laughing. "It wasn't that funny!"

Sirius waggled his eyebrows. "Hey, let's get on and grab a compartment before they're all full."

Sirius dashed up to the stairs and bounded up them. James followed behind, his heart pounding. This was it; this was the train to Hogwarts. He took a deep breath before jumping up the stairs behind Sirius. By the time he reached the top, Sirius had already run a good way down the aisle.

"Hey, that one!" Sirius called, waving to James and pointing to a compartment close to where the sweets trolley was resting.

As Sirius slid open the door, however, he noticed something rather odd. Firstly, it was already occupied, and secondly, that occupant was soundly asleep. Sirius turned to James and put his finger to his lips to indicate silence, then tiptoed into the compartment. James followed behind curiously. It was a small child, about their age and sporting tatty dirty-blonde hair, curled up into a foetal position on one of the benches. He was already wearing his robes, but, unlike those of Sirius and James, his were faded and clearly second-hand. James snorted; he'd never met anyone who couldn't afford new robes, and attributed it to laziness. Below him was a small, shiny leather case, stamped, with bright golden letters, the words Professor R. J. Lupin.

Sirius coughed loudly. "So, you're a professor then!"

The boy started and stared blearily at the intruders. "Wha--"

James smiled and pointed, "Your case."

An expression of realisation came over the boy. "Oh, yeah, that… that was my dad's. He used to be the Hogwarts defence teacher."

"How come you have it, then?" Sirius asked, smirking.

The boy sat up. "Not that it's any of either of your business," he glared at James as well, "but he passed away last year and left it to me." He sighed. "We have the same initials."

"R. J.?" James asked curiously.

"It's Remus John, for me at least. I don't expect you particularly care about my father's name."

"Not if you don't want to tell us, we don't," Sirius said. He stuck out a hand to shake. "Name's Sirius, Sirius Black."

Remus shook regally, then turned toward James, who offered a hand as well.

"James Potter. We're both first years, what about you?"

"First year as well."

"From a wizarding family, then?"

"Yes, although, well, it doesn't make any difference anyway." Remus turned his head to look out the window at the rest of the boarding students, as though eager to change the subject.

The three sat in the awkward silence of strangers. As more students boarded the train, the excited voices and stomping footsteps grew louder.

James recalled the many parties his parents had hosted and the methods of small-talk that they had used to make their countless friends. He coughed suggestively and Remus turned his head towards him curiously.

"So, er, what do you like to do in your spare time?" James said nervously.

Remus shrugged. "I don't really have all that many friends, wizard or otherwise. I don't go outside much, my mum needs me around. I read."

James was sorry he asked. Remus turned his head back to the window. James noticed that the platform was nearly empty, so there wasn't anything particularly interesting to look at. He couldn't figure out whether Remus was shy, or merely didn't want to have anything to do with them.

Sirius seemed to be thinking along those same lines. He raised his eyebrows and whispered to James. "Quiet one, isn't he?"

Suddenly the door to their compartment slid open, breaking the awkward silence. At first, James was unable to tell who had opened it, but soon a small redhead peeked into the compartment. She stepped forward and asked softly, "Do you have an extra seat in here?"

James opened and closed his mouth a couple times, but before he could answer, Sirius stood up and, acting like such the gentleman, bowed and gestured towards the space next to Remus. "If our resident professor here doesn't mind, you are welcome to that seat."

Graciously, the girl accepted, smiling a bit at Sirius's show. James found himself tongue-tied still. He was captivated by the heart-shape of her face, her soft freckles and wavy red hair, yet it was her eyes that James found the most entrancing. While the rest of her persona exuded joyful simplicity and shyness, her eyes were bright and piercing, and maybe, if one looked closely enough, a bit unhappy. James recalled glimpsing a similarly despondent red-haired girl while in Diagon Alley, and somehow knew that she was one and the same.

He struggled to clear his throat to speak, but was beat to it by Sirius, who, in typical Sirius-around-a-girl fashion, was striving to dominate the conversation.

"So, I suppose you're a first-year too? What may we call you?"

She nodded. "Oh… I'm Lily."

James stuck out his hand, glad for the opportunity to steal the spotlight from Sirius. "James Potter."

Remus had abandoned the window and looked interested in their new acquaintance. He introduced himself as well, then proposed that they play a card game. He snapped open the case and pulled out a well-worn children's deck, with smiling queens and kings in primary colours, waving gaily.

Sirius and James accepted quickly, but Lily took a minute to examine the cards. "They move… " she whispered softly. Lily handed the cards back to Remus, and he took that as an invitation to deal.

They four happily spent the rest of the train ride to school chattering and playing various games, and, after the sweets trolley had passed by, munching on sugary bits of magic. It was, all in all, a pleasant way to begin their first year at school, with the ephemeral innocence and exuberance of childhood.



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