The Gryffindor common room was loud with the cries of victory. Bottles of Butterbeer were strewn across the floor, explosions of poppers melded together with the raucous cheers. Sweets and their colourful wrappers were clumped together in piles on the floor, occasionally getting scattered as someone unknowingly kicked into them. Seven Gryffindors proudly wore their scarlet robes, which stood out brilliantly against the black of the others. Gryffindor was celebrating their victory over Slytherin in the Quidditch Final. An outstanding three hundred and twenty to one hundred and ninety point victory. The common room was about to burst with the noise.
The week preceding the match had been plagued with fights breaking out in the corridors and arguements during classes. More than once, James had to be threatened with detention as he fought with the Slytherin teammates. Cory Hamilton regularly got into disagreements with Regulus Black, as they were the competing Seekers. Luckily Hamilton was restrained enough to not let the disagreements evolve into full-fledged duels. The last thing either team wanted was for their Seeker to be given detention on the day of the final.
The seven Gryffindor Quidditch team members were in the centre of the room, animatedly retelling the events of the match, occasionally exaggerating the play-by-play. Hamilton had not stopped beaming, much like rest of his team. He stood behind his teammates, grinning down at them, clapping them on the shoulders. They had wanted to give him the big victory before he graduated. Hamilton didn’t have much that made him as happy as much as winning a Quidditch match did, it was the least they could do for him. As Jamie Kirkland was going over one of the many spectacular scores she had made, James extracted himself from the group to join his friends.
“Great match, James,” Remus said when James sat down beside him.
“Thanks,” James replied, the grin on his face widening.
“It was brilliant, seeing the looks on the Slytherin team’s faces,” Sirius laughed, joyously accidentally slopping Butterbeer down his front. Frowning, he tapped his wand to his shirt and the Butterbeer siphoned itself off.
“Nifty spell,” James observed, watching as Sirius’s wand cleaned his shirt.
“One of the sixth years taught it to me.”
“Yeah,” Remus said abruptly. “After I threatened to stick your head inside the phonograph unless you figured out how to get that stupid message off my forehead.”
“You’re never going to let that go, are you?”
“Maybe when I’m twenty.”
“Oh, come on, Sirius,” Peter chimed in, shaking Sirius playfully on the shoulder. “Six years isn’t a long time.”
“When you’re living with him,” Sirius jerked his thumb at Remus, who flashed a smug smile, “for the majority of those years, it is a long time.”
“Did you guys see McGonagall after the game?” James asked, sidetracking Remus from whatever comeback was formulating in his mind.
“She was in tears,” Remus said, chuckling lightly. “She’s as bad as the students are.”
“Honestly,” Peter agreed. “She loves rubbing it in Slughorn’s face when Gryffindor wins.”
“It’s the only time she ever seems normal,” Sirius adding, grimacing at the thought of the Transfiguration professor ever being normal.
“At least this puts us over the top for the House Cup,” James said happily. “The Great Hall looks so much better in red than green.”
Remus nodded. “Can’t argue there.” He suddenly stuck his hand in his pocket and pulled out a folded up sheath of parchment. “I forgot to tell you guys, my parents wrote to me and said you three were invited over for the summer.”
“How could you forget to tell us?” Sirius asked, feigning offense.
Remus ignored this. “The first two weeks in July, you all can come to my house.”
“Are there any you-know-what’s?” Peter asked anxiously. He was the only one who had not seen Remus after a transformation. He wasn’t so sure that he wanted to see it.
“On the fourth, but it’s no big deal. I don’t think it will be bad.” He scanned the letter once more before pocketing it. “So will you come?”
“Sure,” Sirius said automatically. He needed any excuse to get out of his house. He and Remus turned to James.
“I think my parents were hoping you guys would come over again.”
“I think Sirius and Peter have wreaked enough havoc on your house, James. They can do it to mine instead.”
“Fine, my parents will just have to get over it.” He glanced over his shoulders at Hamilton, who was cheerfully retelling one of his spectacular blocks as a Slytherin Chaser tried to steal the Quaffle from a Gryffindor. “It’s going to be strange having a new captain next year.”
“Who’s in the running for it?” Peter asked.
“Biggs is probably going to get it, he’s the oldest.”
“That matters that much?” Remus asked. He knew that James’s fellow Chaser, Lawrence Biggs, deserved the position more than anyone else, but he didn’t think a person should get the spot just because of their age.
“Not really. He’s the best one of us. He’d be great for the team.”
“Hopefully you find another Seeker,” Sirius said, cracking open a tin of Fizzing Whizzbees. “That’s going to be hard.”
James couldn’t help but agree. He couldn’t think of anyone better than Hamilton. “I hear Cory’s getting picked up by the Tornadoes.”
“Too bad it’s not Puddlemere,” Sirius lamented. “Now I have to root against him.”
“What’s this about rooting against me?” asked a voice feigning outrage. The boys looked up to see that Hamilton had woven his way through the crowd to them. “How could you root against me?”
“I hate the Tornadoes.”
“They’ll be better when I’m on the team, Sirius.” He turned to his Chaser. “You won’t root against me, will you, James?”
James shrugged apologetically. “I’m pretty attached to Puddlemere. Sorry, Captain.”
Hamilton shook his head, grinning. “You’ve been a great Chaser, Potter.” He clapped James on the shoulder. “Keep the team going, your Lawrence’s second in command.” Hamilton nodded at Sirius, Remus and Peter and disappeared over to Jamie Kirkland, who was failing at uncorking a bottle of Butterbeer.
“Second in command, that’s something,” Sirius commented, eyebrows raised. “Looks like captainship is in the future for you.”
James smiled proudly. “I guess so.”
“WHAT?” This was the reaction of every Gryffindor and Hufflepuff in Professor Handlin’s Defence Against the Dark Arts class. Handlin took a step back, evidently surprised by his students’ outburst. He waved his hands up and down, trying to calm the anger children. “Quiet, please,” he called over the outraged chatter. This did nothing. If anything, the volume only increased. They were trying to understand what their professor was telling them, yet they did not want to believe it. Handlin couldn’t have been leaving, he had no reason to. At least none that he could tell.
“I’ve told you, I must leave,” Handlin continued, speaking calmly, leaning against his desk.
“But why?” Frank Longbottom asked fiercely.
“Yeah,” agreed his fellow Gryffindors.
“I have business to attend to.”
“What kind of business?” James asked, leaning forward on his desk so he could look Handlin in the eyes. He could see no reason why Professor Handlin couldn’t tell them why he was leaving.
“It is private, James.” Handlin flicked his wand and the robes across the room straightened themselves on the coat rack. “I will tell you that I regret having to leave. You have been a wonderful class, one of my favourites. You are some of the brightest students I have ever seen.”
Compliments did nothing to assuage the students’ anger at the situation. Could they keep a Defence Against the Dark Arts professor for more than a year? What was going to be the next professor’s excuse for leaving the next year? It was true that they had chased away Professor Crane in their first year, but they had done nothing to Professor Jones, and now Handlin was leaving them too? Maybe the position really was cursed. Professor Handlin sighing and ran a hand through his hair. “It is something that I am not required to do, but I feel that it is something I need to do.”
The class had nothing to say to this. They knew Handlin well enough to realise that he would not leave them unless it was absolutely necessary. All they knew was that this year, unlike the previous two, they had Handlin for the rest of the year. This would be the first time the third years ever had to take a Defence Against the Dark Arts final.
The boys sat down in their usual seats at the Gryffindor Table on the second to last day of finals week. They had each just taken their finals for their elective classes and were miserably comparing notes. Peter, in particular, looked forlorn.
“I hate Divination,” he moaned, piling his plate with lunch.
“Don’t turn into Sirius, Peter,” Remus cautioned, eyeing the large pile of food. “What did you have to do?”
“Try and find something in the crystal ball. No one could see anything! Except for Jensen Patil, but I think he was lying.”
“Just think, Pete, you can drop the class after fifth year,” Sirius said optimistically. Peter’s mouth dropped open in horror at the idea of waiting two more years before he no longer had to care what his tea leaves told him. “Muggle Studies was nothing. Only… Remus, do Muggles need to press buttons on a lift or do they pull a lever or…?”
“They press buttons, Sirius.”
“Bloody hell, one wrong.”
James rolled his eyes. “Haven’t you ever been inside the Ministry, Sirius? They have lifts there too.”
Comprehension dawned upon Sirius. “Oh yeah… Eh, well, it’s only one wrong, isn’t it?” He proceeded to eat his lunch more happily. “How was Ancient Runes, James?”
“It was okay; I mistranslated one rune, but nothing major. How was Arithmancy, Remus?”
“Fine. Life Numbers, Heart Numbers, all that stuff. Nothing difficult.” He took a swig of pumpkin juice. “What exams do we have left?”
“Transfiguration and Charms,” James replied, taking out the schedule he had drawn up that morning.
“Cheering Charms, good thing too. Peter could really use one.” Sirius patted Peter on the back. “It’s only Divination, even Dumbledore hates that subject.”
Peter looked up from his lunch, which seemed to have gotten larger rather than smaller. “Then why are we still learning it?”
“Good question.” Sirius poked at a potato. “When are we supposed to be at your house, Remus?”
“A day or two after we get home.”
Sirius grimaced. “You mean I have to spend time with my family?”
Remus knew what Sirius was getting at. Sirius would rather stick his head inside the mouth of an enraged Hippogriff than have to stay with his parents, even for the shortest amount of time. “Want me to ask my parents if you can come straight over?”
Remus pulled out a sheet of parchment, along with his quill and ink. He poised his pen over his parchment and started writing. “Dear Mum and Dad, Sirius would like to know if he can wear a frilly pink dress and sing the Hogwarts school song in front of the entire student body.”
“You didn’t write that, did you?” Remus held up the parchment. “Git.” Remus grinned humourously and crumpled up the parchment. “That’s more like it.”
After lunch concluded the boys joined up with Frank, Lily and Alice as they made their way to the Transfiguration classroom. Transfiguration proved to be easy enough. The theory questions were simple, though the practical bit was more of a challenge. They were instructed to turn their teapots into a turtle. In the end, each Gryffindor managed to achieve a turtle, though some were deprived the ability of movement or the gift of a proper head. Even with the difficulty of transfiguring the teapot, the Gryffindors were in high spirits. They had only one final left.
Sirius was right about the Cheering Charms cheering Peter up. When they exited Professor Flitwick’s classroom the next day, Peter was literally bouncing from wall to wall with excitement. It took the combined efforts of James, Sirius and Remus to keep Peter walking in one direction, though they did not stop him from babbling about how wonderful everything was. James, Sirius and Remus, also rather giddy themselves, did not have the heart to bring him back to reality. With a successful turn in Charms, the third year Gryffindors concluded their final exams.
With their overwhelming victory over Slytherin in the Quidditch Final, and no severe loses of house points, Gryffindor took the House Cup for the second year running. The Great Hall was once again decked out in scarlet and gold banners with lions embossed on them, looking proud and regal. The chatter at the Gryffindor table was louder than any other as they basked in the glory of their victory and talked elatedly about the upcoming summer.
The four boys sat in their usual compartment on the Hogwarts Express, mesmerized by the scene taking place just outside the doors. James and Sirius had their faces pressed up against the window, while Peter and Remus had to settle for standing on the seats so they could get the tiniest peeks above their friends’ heads. They were staring as Evan Rosier and Jensen Patil held their wands aloft, each ready to send a curse at the other. The boys were trying to decide who would be the first to crack and hex their opponent. Sirius and Peter had their money on Jensen, while James and Remus were betting on Rosier.
They weren’t completely sure what had started this showdown. From what they could gather from the raised snarls of the Slytherin and Ravenclaw, Rosier had taken a cheap shot at Jensen while his back was turned. Whatever the damage was, it was not visible to the nosy Gryffindor boys. Rosier’s wand rose higher in the air and he took an intimidating step forward. Jensen, however, was not easily frightened and stood his ground. In fact, they saw that Jensen had also moved forward, his wand higher than it had previously been.
“My Galleons are on Rosier,” James said, looking up at Peter.
Peter looked sceptical. “Have you see Jensen duel? He’s incredible.”
They pressed their noses back against the glass and continued to observe the impending duel. They wondered why it was taking so long for either of them to simply shout a hex and get things going. They found the source of this only when James shifted to his left and saw the Prefect making his way over to the two boys. The Prefect broke the imminent duel apart and gave each boy a stern talking-to before sending them back to their own compartments. The four boys settled back into their seats, still debating about who the victor would be if the duel had commenced.
The remainder of the voyage to Platform Nine and Three Quarters was wholly uneventful. Remus dominated ten matches of Exploding Snap before he was taken down by a vicious match of Gobstones. By the time they played the last round, Remus smelled so bad that he was isolated in the corner of the compartment. He suddenly remembered why he hated Gobstones so much. In the end James, Sirius and Peter were overwhelmed by the smell that they used a useful cleaning spell on Remus. It was a relief when the Hogwarts Express pulled up at the platform, the abnormal monotony was broken.
The Lupins, Potters and Pettigrews were assembled a little way away from the train, talking animatedly. Sirius saw, with intense dread, that his family was waiting for Regulus not too far away. What would they do when they saw him go straight with the Lupins? Harry and Anna had both agreed that, if he wanted to, Sirius could go right to their house with Remus. Obviously they wouldn’t be pleased. Sirius couldn’t help but remember what happened the last time his mother had encounter the Lupins, Potters and Pettigrews. She had called two of his best friends a blood traitor and a Mudblood. Trying to look as casual as possible, he veered off with his friends.
“Hullo, boys,” Mrs. Potter said, pulling her son into a hug.
“Hullo,” they greeted.
“When are we coming over, Remus?” James asked, breaking away from his mother and turning to the three Lupins.
“I guess in two days,” Remus suggested, looking questioningly at his father, who nodded in approval.
“You’re coming right over, aren’t you, Sirius?” Mrs. Lupin asked.
“If that’s okay?”
“Yes, it’s fine.”
“Sirius!” barked a familiar voice from behind the group. Mr. and Mrs. Black were approaching, Regulus at their heels. Sirius groaned inwardly, this was just what he needed. His father had never met any of his friends’ parents, and his remarks were guaranteed to be twice as nasty as his mother’s were. To make matters worse, neither his mother nor his father had ever met Mrs. Lupin, yet they knew perfectly that she was a Muggle. They would not be kind to her.
“Where are you going?” Mr. Orion Black asked his eldest son.
“With Remus,” Sirius replied grudgingly. “You said I could.”
Mr. Black’s eyes moved slowly over the Lupin Family, taking in their normal, lower middle-class appearance with distaste. He seemed to be having second thoughts about allowing his son to go off with a Muggle and her half-blood son. “I’m not so sure, Sirius.”
Though he fully expected this, Sirius could not stop his jaw from dropping open. If only they had been fast enough to leave without being noticed. “But you said I could.” Why couldn’t he think of something more forceful than that to say?
“Mr. Black, it’s perfectly okay for Sirius to come with us now,” Mrs. Lupin chanced saying. She did not seem to recognise the warning glances that were being thrown at her from her son and husband, not to mention the families around her.
Mr. Black laughed derisively. “It’s not a question of whether or not it is fine for you.” He angrily gestured towards Mrs. Lupin. “It’s a question of whether or not I want my son spending time with a Mudblood and his Muggle mother.”
James, Sirius, Remus and Peter had a horrible feeling of déjà vu as three wands were whipped from their belts and pointed at Mr. Black, who remained quite calm. “Are you going to hex me like you tried to do to my wife?”
“Don’t insult my wife or my son,” Harry Lupin hissed fiercely. He pressed the tip of wand into Mr. Black’s chest.
“Dad,” Remus whispered warningly.
Mrs. Black smiled nastily. “Even your son knows where your place in society is.”
Remus threw her an angry glance; he had not meant that at all.
“Is this going to become a tradition?” Charles Potter questioned harshly. “Every two years we’ll see you and you’ll do nothing except insult us?”
Mr. Black pretended to look offended. “I said nothing to you, Charles. I was speaking to the man with filth in his family.”
“Dad!” Remus gripped his father’s arm and held it down. Harry’s eyes had flashed and his wand rose in an attempt to hex Orion Black until he was something resembling a slug writhing on the ground.
“Remus, let go of my arm.” Remus, despite the intense warning in his father’s voice, did not loosen his grip. “Remus! Let go now!” Slowly, Remus released his father’s arm, but remained close by in case he had to stop him again. However, he was not fast enough and before any of them knew what was happening, Mr. Black was on the floor with something ugly sprouting off his face. “Get your things, boys,” Harry instructed Remus and Sirius. “Come on, Anna. We’re going home.”
“Get your trunk James,” Hannah Potter told her son, taking this as the signal to also leave.
“You too, Peter,” Maggie Pettigrew said to Peter, who was watching the situation unfold in shock.
The three families made their way to the platform barrier, not breaking their stride until they heard Mr. Black’s voice shout once more through the sprouts on his face. “It will be people like you who go first - Mudbloods and blood traitors! When Lord Voldemort gains power, you will all be the first to die!”
The adults did not pause to listen, but the boys could not help themselves. They stopped to see Mr. Black struggling to his feet with the help of Regulus. His grin was manic and his eyes alight with a glee that could not be compared with anything good. John Pettigrew called for them to hurry up and the boys broke their gaze. As they reentered the Muggle world they could not help but wonder – Who was Lord Voldemort?
Excerpt from Chapter Thirty Four: Loyalty
“You can’t kill us, Remus!” James told him happily. “You love us too much.”
“DEATH!” Remus emerged from the other side of the bed and was holding what appeared to be a cricket bat. James, Sirius and Peter took a cautionary step backwards.
“What is that?” Sirius asked, eyeing the bat.
“Didn’t I ever tell you my mum played cricket?”
“Put it down, Remus,” James instructed.
Remus looked a little reluctant, but heeded James’s instructions. “What, in Merlin’s name, possessed you to dump water on me?”
“A little owl told us,” Peter answered offhandedly.
Remus raised an eyebrow. “Was the owl’s name James? Or was it Sirius?”
“Actually it was named Peter,” Sirius said brightly.
Remus’s jaw dropped open in disbelief. “Peter, I thought you were on my side!”
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