Sirius Goes To Hogwarts
I almost didn't go to school that sunny September morning in 1971, and I'll tell you why.
Regulus was a nose-picker. He picked his nose as much as other people breathe. He picked it at meals, he picked it while reading, he picked it while thinking ... I'm almost certain he picked it in his sleep. Our parents never yelled at him about it, and he never listened when I did. So that morning, as he sat happily picking away over eggs and bacon, I decided to teach him a little lesson.
"OW! OW! OW!" he started screeching, holding his nose.
"Regulus!" cried Mum, rushing over to him. "What's wrong, darling?" She managed to pry his hands away from his nose, and then she started screeching. "Oh my - ! Orion! Orion, help me!"
Dad dropped his copy of the Daily Prophet and raced over to them. "Merlin's underpants!" he shouted. "How on Earth did you get baked beans in your nostrils?"
Regulus was crying in earnest now, giant wet beans cascading down from his nostrils.
"Kreacher! Kreacher, my tweezers, now!" shouted Mum, snatching them away from the house-elf. "Hold still, Regulus!" she commanded. It took her a full ten minutes to get all of the beans out, with Dad holding my brother down on the kitchen table.
I was laughing so hard, I nearly wet my pants. I wasn't laughing anymore when Mum grabbed me by the ear and dragged me into the hall. "Sirius - Black -" she panted, almost too angry to speak. "No - Hogwarts - for - you - EVER - get - up - room!"
My dog, Gulliver, had been lying on the rug by the front door. At the sound of Mum's angry voice, he leaped up and raced to my side.
"But Mum, it's already ten-thirty!" I protested. "The train leaves in half an hour!" She gave a scream of exasperation, so I turned and sprinted upstairs to my room, Gulliver in tow. I flopped onto the bed angrily, but sulking gave way to thinking. I had to get on that train, I had to go to school. "No way in hell am I going to live at Grimmauld Place for the rest of my life," I told Gulliver, who wagged his tail and watched me intelligently. I imagined a lifetime of having my ears boxed by Mum and shuddered. Then I imagined Regulus in his school robes next year, smugly heading off to Hogwarts, and that did it for me.
I jumped off the bed and examined my heavy school trunk. Somehow I had to drag it to the drawing-room fireplace without anyone seeing me. I would use Floo powder and try to get to King's Cross. God, I hope there are fireplaces there, I thought, and grabbed onto my trunk.
There was a knock on the door of my room. The house-elf was the only one who ever bothered to knock. "Go away, Kreacher!" I shouted, so of course he came in.
He gave me a low bow and a look of deepest loathing. "Kreacher has been sent to take Master Sirius to King's Cross." It was clear from the way he said it that this was to be my punishment. Trust my parents to think nothing was worse than having a servant escort you to school.
I gave a sigh of relief. "Is that all? Right, let's go then."
But that wasn't all. The house-elf took a deep breath. "Kreacher is to go with Master Sirius to school for a month, to keep an eye on his behavior. Mistress's orders." He kept looking at the silk ropes around my bed curtains, as though longing to hang himself - or me.
I groaned. How in the name of Agrippa would I ever make any friends with an ugly doll in a pillowcase cramping my style? Well, there was nothing more to be said about it. Mum's word was law in the Black household, and if Kreacher was to accompany me to school, then to school he would go. "All because of one stupid joke," I muttered grumpily. "All right, all right, let's just go then."
I bent down and put an arm around Gulliver, touching my trunk with one hand and taking hold of Kreacher's dirty rags with the other. With a sharp crack we landed in a grassy, secluded area outside King's Cross.
Kreacher grudgingly took my trunk, turned it and himself invisible, and followed me into the station. Avoiding a crowd of hurrying Muggles, I reached into my pocket for the ticket and examined it. "Platform 9 and 3/4," I murmured, looking up as I passed Platforms 7 and 8. And there it was, a solid metal barrier planted between Platforms 9 and 10. A family was already standing there.
"You and Daddy go first, Alice darling," said the mother anxiously. "I'll follow with your trunk."
"I'd rather go alone, Mummy," responded a girl with long yellow pigtails, "if that's all right."
I watched as the girl took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and walked confidently into the barrier, disappearing from sight. Her parents followed her quickly, leaving the way clear. "Are you here, elf?" I muttered.
"Yes, Master Sirius," came a reluctant reply from my right.
"Let's go." I grabbed on to Gulliver's collar, inhaled deeply, and strode briskly at the barrier. When I opened my eyes, I stood on a crowded platform filled with people kissing their children goodbye and pushing trunks and caged owls back and forth. And there it was, the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, stretching along the railway track like a scarlet serpent. My ticket to freedom, I thought joyously, gazing upon the Hogwarts Express for the first time.
The hands of the clock pointed to 10:50 AM. I looked down at Kreacher, who had reappeared with my trunk, looking disgruntled. "Go into the luggage car," I ordered, "and don't find me until we reach Hogwarts." Ignoring his protests, I led Gulliver up a set of steps into one of the passenger cars. With ten minutes left until departure, almost all of the compartments were full. I peeked into one after the other, not paying attention until I bumped into someone in the narrow corridor. It was the girl with the long yellow pigtails.
"Oh, sorry!" She smiled down at Gulliver, who was licking her hand. "I didn't know you could bring dogs to Hogwarts. Yours is lovely. What kind is he?"
I beamed. Anyone who likes my dog is all right in my book. "Gully's a Newfoundland."
"I'm Alice Prewett, by the way," she said, shaking my hand. "If you're looking for a compartment, my friends found one at the end so you're welcome to join us."
"Sirius Black," I answered gratefully, "and thanks, I will." I followed Alice down the length of the narrow corridor, and she slid open one of the last compartments.
"I've brought someone to come sit with us," she announced. "This is Sirius Black."
The dark-haired boy sitting by the door grinned at me. "You don't look very serious."
"My hair, however, is a serious black," I responded without missing a beat.
The girl by the window rolled her eyes and Alice groaned, but the boy and I grinned at each other and that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
"James Potter," he introduced himself, then pointed to the girl next to him. "And this is Sophia Green." He looked at Gulliver and petted his head. "Nice dog. Good thing you got here when you did, the cars fill up quite fast."
I shrugged. "I left the house late," I explained. "My mum almost didn't let me come."
Sophia looked at me in surprise. "Is she a Muggle?" she inquired politely.
"No," I answered with a laugh, imagining Mum's face if she knew someone had mistaken her for a Muggle. "I got in trouble again. Turned my brother's bogeys into baked beans."
"Urgh!" Alice cried, looking repulsed.
"Disgusting!" Sophia agreed. "It would've been just as well to turn them into bubbles or something. Less to clean up, at least."
James let out a snort of laughter. "That's brilliant!" he chortled admiringly. "Wish I had a brother to take the mickey out of. I'm an only child, so all I've got are these two here."
"Lucky us," Sophia said sarcastically. "So, Sirius. Do you play Quidditch?"
"No, my parents think it's a barbarian sport. They don't like anything with perspiration," I replied wistfully. I didn't tell them the main reasons: that 1) Joscelind Wadcock, the leading Quidditch superstar in Britain, was a Muggleborn; and 2) I was especially forbidden to play, being the Black heir apparent. "Do you play?"
She flipped her straight brown hair over one shoulder. "Of course. James and I have been flying since before we could walk," she replied nonchalantly. "My dad and his mum played when they were at Hogwarts."
"I want to be a Chaser," put in James confidently, leaning back with the air of a boy who always got what he wanted. "I'd rather score a million goals than catch a tiny ball."
"But Seeker's very important," pointed out Alice, apparently a spectator rather than a player. "You can't expect to win a Quidditch game on goals alone."
James shrugged. "You can't expect to catch the Snitch every time. It works both ways." His stomach gave a loud and sudden growl. "Bloody hell, I'm hungry. I thought they had a snack cart on this train?"
"I expect it'll come once we start going," responded Sophia. "I'm going to go wash my hands."
"I'll come too." Alice rose and looked down at my dozing dog. "D'you think Gully wants some water, Sirius?" At the sound of his name he looked up at her, tail wagging frantically.
"Yeah, thanks," I answered. Gully followed the girls out of the compartment. Within seconds the train began moving away from the platform. Outside, the crowd of waving parents and siblings became a steady blur as we sped out of London. James and I looked at each other with silly grins. "I can't believe I'm finally going to Hogwarts!" I bellowed, fairly jumping with excitement. "I've waited eleven years for this moment."
"Tell me about it," James agreed enthusiastically. "My parents always talk about their school days. Mum was Quidditch captain and Dad was Head Boy. They're expecting me to live up to their standards." He spoke without the least bit of worry.
"Mine are expecting me to live up to their standards as well," I replied, a bit more glumly. You know. Hex a few Muggles, I thought. Cast a few curses. Be as boring as possible. All in a day's work for a Black.
At that moment our compartment door slid open and a strange girl came inside. She rushed into the window seat next to James and turned her face away from us, pressing her nose to the glass.
"Hey!" James protested. "Someone's already sitting -" He didn't finish his sentence because by this time, we had both realized that the girl was crying. Her shoulders were shaking silently, her face hidden by a sheet of dark red hair. James frowned, and shrugged at me uncomfortably. "So - what were we talking about?"
Before I could say anything the door slid open again, and a skinny boy already dressed in his school robes entered the compartment. He went directly over to Alice's seat opposite the girl, ignoring both James and me. They talked together in low voices, the boy pleading and apologetic, the girl plaintive and upset.
"Erm, we were talking about Hogwarts," I said to James quickly, feeling awkward. "My cousin Andromeda said the food's the best she's ever had."
James groaned, clutching his stomach. "Don't talk to me about food," he grumbled. "All I had this morning was some bacon, eggs, hash browns, and a few sausages. And some black pudding. And some leftover chicken and mushroom pie." He thought for a moment. "And a slice of my mum's chocolate cake."
I doubled over laughing. "That's a full day's meal for a family of four, mate!"
Next to me, the greasy-haired boy - who smelled rather like cabbages - suddenly spoke a bit louder, his voice carrying through the compartment. "I hope you'll be in Slytherin too," he was telling the girl, who looked a bit less peaky.
James's head snapped around. "Slytherin? I think I'd get on the next train home, wouldn't you, Sirius?"
I looked back at him glumly, feeling deflated. "Everyone in my family was in Slytherin."
He looked astonished. "Bloody hell! And here I thought you seemed decent enough."
I shrugged and grinned at him, trying to seem carefree. "Maybe they'll make an exception for me," I answered. I couldn't help but wonder exactly how Mum and Dad would kill me. Perhaps they would tie me in the garden and leave me to the mercy of the gnomes. Or cover me with Worcestershire sauce and feed me to a troll. "Which house would you want to be in?"
James pretended to wield a sword and stabbed it right at the boy, who scowled at him. "Gryffindor, obviously. Like my dad."
The strange boy snorted disdainfully and glanced at his companion, who had been listening quietly.
James glared at him. "Think that's silly, do you?" he demanded.
The boy looked at James and me like we were slugs. He crossed his skinny arms over his chest self-righteously, peering at us through his oily bangs. "Well, it's your business if you'd rather have muscles than brains..."
I eyed him sideways in disbelief. A slimy maggot like him, talking down to us! "Well I hope they have a house specially for you, since you've got neither."
James guffawed, slapping his knee. The girl rose abruptly, her face as red as her hair. "Let's find somewhere else to sit, Severus," she said loftily. She stalked over to the door and slid it open. The filthy bugger followed her and actually had the gall to shoot us both a dirty look. James put his foot out and tripped him, sending him stumbling out the door.
"See you at dinner, Snivellus!" I called, giving him a sarcastic wave.
James wiped his eyes. "Good one," he said weakly, still shaking with mirth. "Oh the scum that makes it into Hogwarts. There's some every year, I'll bet."
"Don't say that. Snivellus could be my roommate once I'm put in Slytherin," I answered, only half joking.
"Who's in Slytherin?" asked Sophia interestedly, reappearing at the door with Gully. She set a bowl of water on the floor for him.
"Sirius's entire family," James informed her, and she stared at me. I felt myself turning red, but before I had a chance to explain, there was a knock on the compartment door and the lady with the snack trolley appeared.
"Something to eat, ducks?" she questioned, smiling.
James jumped up eagerly and held out a handful of shining Galleons. "I'd like three of everything, please," he said. "And four Chocolate Frogs - I owe my friend one."
Sophia looked pleased. "Thanks, James! Didn't think you'd remember."
"Where's Alice?" I asked, getting a box of Every Flavor Beans for myself and two Sugar Mice for Gulliver.
"Went to visit some people, she'll be back in a bit," she explained. She gladly accepted a Chocolate Frog from James and unwrapped it. "It's moving around a bit more than usual, isn't it?" she remarked cheerily. "Must be a defective one. Ooo, a Circe card! I haven't got any of her."
James had a funny expression on his face. "Well, it must be all right if it came with a card," he said reasonably. "Try it."
Sophia obediently lifted the frog to her wide-open mouth. It looked at her with very real yellow eyes, gave a very real croak of terror, and jumped into her hair, leaving a streak of green slime on her forehead. "Urgh!" she shrieked. "Get it off me!"
James was completely useless as he was clutching himself and howling with laughter, so I tried vainly to grab it. The frog jumped from Sophia's head to the window - leaving a disgusting slimy trail on the glass - and finally into Gulliver's bowl of water, where the chocolate washed off to reveal a grumpy frog that was very much alive.
Her glossy brown hair disheveled, Sophia stood on the seat and reached into the luggage rack. She brought down "Hogwarts, A History," the largest textbook assigned that year, and proceeded to whack James senseless. "You - evil - git!" she yelled in between hitting him. "I - nearly - ate - a - real - frog!"
When she had calmed down, James grinned. "It was pretty funny, though, wasn't it?" he asked. She brandished the book again and he shrank back into the corner by the door, still laughing.
"Good one," I said appreciatively, rescuing the frog from Gulliver who was eying it curiously. I chucked the poor frog out the window to freedom. "How long did it sit in your pocket?"
"Since I left home," responded James. "I found it on the doorstep and then I covered it with chocolate. Brilliant, yeah?"
"More like vile," Sophia snapped.
I shook my head. "Bit complicated for me, really," I told James, climbing easily into the luggage rack above my seat. "I like it straight and simple. Watch me scare the daylights out of Alice." It was only a couple of minutes before the door slid open and someone stepped inside. Without looking, I launched myself from the rack. "BOO!"
I heard a loud scream and Gully's violent barking. Then the person I had scared grabbed me round the neck. "Sirius Black," she spat angrily, shaking me. "What do you mean by this inappropriate behavior?"
Oops. It wasn't Alice. "Sorry," I said sheepishly, looking up into the furious pale face. "I thought you were someone else." My dog was still barking ferociously and every black hair on his neck was standing on end. He had never liked Narcissa much. "Gully! Quiet!"
My cousin let go of me and scowled at him. "You're not allowed to bring dogs to Hogwarts," she snapped. "What does my aunt mean by allowing you to bring this beast?"
I rubbed my sore neck. "She doesn't know. Why are you here, anyway?" I demanded.
Narcissa stared at me, her ice-blue eyes narrowed in dislike. "Like you, I am going to Hogwarts," she sneered. "Unlike you, I am aware of how to behave myself." A shining Prefect badge glittered on the front of her robes. "I was going to extend a bit of family courtesy and invite you to sit in my compartment, but I'm afraid you have just lost that privilege." She turned to leave, a cascade of platinum blond hair swaying behind her.
I rolled my eyes at James and Sophia, but both of them were watching her with round eyes. "I'm so very disappointed," I said angelically, clasping my hands together. "I do hope we can still sit together at meals and plait each other's hair."
She turned on her heel and when she spoke, her voice was very low. "I have two owls at my personal beck and call. Embarrass me, dishonor our name, and your mother will get a letter within the hour." She smiled coldly and slammed the door behind her.
"What a load of rubbish," I muttered grumpily. "First a house-elf has to watch over me, and now her too. I suppose it'll be the British Navy next." I petted Gully comfortingly. "There, there, boy, someday I'll let you have a bite or two of her."
"She isn't your sister, is she?" asked Sophia, her eyes still round.
"No!" I answered, horrified. "Don't go spreading that around, Sophia! She's just my cousin."
"She's perfect!" James breathed, looking stunned. "What's her name? Where does she live? Does she like Quidditch?"
Sophia smacked him upside the head. "I'm sorry you have to witness this, Sirius," she said apologetically. "He has five different crushes a second."
"This isn't a crush, it's love," argued James.
I shook my head. "Forget it. I was all ready to be friends with you. If you date her, you'll be dead to me." James grinned at that and I added, "Besides, Cissy's loads older than we are. She's practically engaged to some jumped-up seventh-year boy with prettier hair than hers."
James shrugged. "Too bad, then," he remarked, and proceeded to forget all about her.
The train reached Hogwarts in due course and we all filed into the corridor, feeling very grown up and important in our flowing school robes. James, Sophia, and I found Alice, and the four of us stayed together in the bustling crowd of students. Prefects, easily distinguishable by the gleaming of their badges, rushed about trying to create some sense of order. One man did all that and more simply by appearing.
"C'mere, yeh lot!" Hagrid called, beckoning. "Firs' years, over here with me! C'mere, now!"
Impressed with his appearance, we all quieted down at once and obediently approached him.
Hagrid looked down and noticed Gully almost immediately. " 'Ello there," he said, "we don't allow dogs at 'Ogwarts. Sorry 'bout that."
I put my arms protectively around my dog. "I can't send him back now!" I protested. "Couldn't he stay at least for the night? He'll be good."
His kind eyes softened and crinkled at the corners. This was a beast of a man who liked beasts. "I s'pose so. He can stay in my cottage fer the night and then we need to owl yer parents so they can get 'im." Gulliver approached him and gratefully licked his hand - or what he could reach of his hand. Hagrid laughed, and bent down to pet him. "'Ow's he about water? We're goin' to take those boats."
"Gully likes water," I assured him.
Alice patted my arm. "Sorry you can't keep your dog here, Sirius," she said sympathetically. "Maybe your parents will buy you an owl instead."
"Thanks, Alice," I returned, "but I think they'd sooner get me an adder when they hear from Cissy."
We walked in a huddle towards the moonlit lake. Through the crowd, I spotted Kreacher trying to make his way towards me. Ignoring him, I pushed ahead and found a boat with my friends. James and Sophia clambered up front while Alice, Gully, and I crowded into the back. Once all of the first-years were safely seated, the boats began to move across the glassy lake and up towards the castle. I will never forget the first time I laid eyes on Hogwarts. The image of the towers, the turrets, and the glowing windows will follow me to my dying day. Everyone remained in silent awe, and when the boat ride ended - too soon for all of us - we filed up to the castle entrance.
"Good luck wi' the Ceremony, then," Hagrid told all of us. He led Gully away with a friendly wave.
We were greeted by Minerva McGonagall in the entrance hall. "Welcome, first-years," she stated formally and proceeded to explain all about the four Houses, how to earn points, and a selection of school rules that neither James nor I paid attention to. "You are now ready to begin the Sorting Ceremony. Follow me."
We were led slowly through a set of double doors and into an immense hall, filled with tables of robed students staring at us. A few first-years nodded and waved to older family members and friends.
A shining blond head caught my eye and I saw Narcissa sitting with a very tall, pointy-faced boy. I waved at her and blew her a kiss, but she looked away and pretended not to notice. So I yelled, "Oy, Narcissa! I love you, you're my favorite cousin!" Her pale face turned beet red and everyone stared at me, some of them tittering. Behind me, James was trying to stifle his laughter.
McGonagall turned around and gave me a disapproving frown. "Quiet, please."
When we approached the High Table, I could see Dumbledore's bright blue eyes twinkling though his face was serious. The sight of him impressed us even more than the sight of Hagrid had, because most of us had only ever seen him on Chocolate Frog cards before.
The Sorting Hat - with which I was about to become very closely acquainted - opened its mouth and began to sing some nonsense that I didn't have much patience for. James and I were busy laughing at Snivellus, whose polka-dotted underpants were showing through a hole in his trousers.
"Wish I knew how to turn them into pink daisies," James whispered longingly.
"Well that's why we're going to school, isn't it?" I whispered back.
The Sorting Hat's babbling finally ended. "Let the Sorting Ceremony begin!" McGonagall announced, unrolling a long piece of parchment. "Abair, Elisabeth!"
A girl with short brown hair sat nervously down on the stool. McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat on her head and seconds later, it yelled: "RAVENCLAW!"
Three names later, it was my turn. "Black, Sirius!"
By this time I was wholeheartedly curious as to exactly how it chose the House for each student. McGonagall placed the Hat upon my head.
"Hello," said a voice inside my mind.
"AH!" I yelled in surprise, and some giggles arose from the observers.
"So, another Black. I put eight generations of the Black family into Slytherin, you know."
"How do you know my name?" I demanded, before remembering that McGonagall had just announced my name to the hall at large. Perhaps the Hat had ears as well as a mouth.
The voice laughed. "Not too bright, are we? Guess we can rule out Ravenclaw."
"Don't insult me, you git," I snapped, offended.
"I see we can rule out Hufflepuff too. You're neither friendly nor hardworking, that's easy enough to see."
"I'm friendly!" I argued. "I've made loads of friends already. Just put me in Slytherin, okay? If I don't get in there, my mum'll kill me."
"You're neither cunning nor ambitious enough for Slytherin," responded the voice. "So, to sum it all up - you're not smart, you're not hardworking, you have no ambitions whatsoever..."
"That's a load of rubbish, you decrepit piece of fabric," I retorted, angry now.
"... so where shall I put a stupid, lazy, boorish child?" It seemed to be enjoying this.
"THAT'S IT!" I shouted, fed up. I grabbed the Hat and bent the brim. "Apologize!"
"Never!" screamed the voice. "You're hurting me! Release my brim, you stupid prat!"
"Apologize and put me in Slytherin!"
Beside me, McGonagall had realized that there was a problem. She stepped forward anxiously, but James told me later that Dumbledore had shaken his head at her and looked on curiously. Apparently this was the Hat's first ever row with a student.
I continued twisting the brim and the mouth of the Hat actually closed down on my hand. That Hat had some sharp teeth. "OW! I've got a pair of scissors with your name on it, you evil old rag!" I yelled. "Put me in Slytherin!"
"NO!" the Hat shouted again. "For your cheek, I'm putting you in ... GRYFFINDOR!" It screamed the last word and promptly fell off my head.
The hall had exploded into laughter and muffled conversation. Apparently my side of the conversation had been audible to everyone looking on. A trifle red-faced and very sweaty, I stumbled off the stool sheepishly and glanced at my new friends. James was laughing so hard he had to bend over, and girls were wiping away tears of mirth. I walked past one of the long tables and heard someone exclaim, "Threatening the Sorting Hat with scissors? Sheer brilliance!"
"He called it a git! Did you hear?"
"I can't blame him - honestly, the things that little Sorting bugger says..."
"Black - Sirius Black -"
"The Hat bit him! Did you see it?"
"He's a Black - Narcissa's cousin -"
"I didn't know the Hat had teeth, look, his hand's gone all red..."
By the time I reached the Gryffindor table I had become a celebrity, and earned myself a few dozen claps on the back and some pats on the head.
I didn't have time to worry about the consequences of being the only non-Slytherin Black - there would be plenty of time for remorse later - as one by one, the friends I had met on the train were Sorted into Gryffindor. James, Sophia, and Alice all joined me, along with a fat blond boy (who, for the purposes of this story, shall be dubbed Worm), a thin, quiet boy who kept to himself, and Snivellus's little red-haired friend.
And that is the story of my journey to Hogwarts. The memories have lasted ... and so have these teeth marks on my right hand.
Author's Notes: Haha I had a lot of fun writing this story. Hope you enjoyed it and please leave a review if you can. :)
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