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Chapter Fifty Three
Family Insights and the Oblivious Potter

“Pass me a Chocolate Frog, would you, Wormtail?”

“They’re right in front of you.”

“No, they’re not.”

“They were; you just kicked the pile towards me.”

“Padfoot, get up off your fat bum and get them yourself!”

“Jeez, Moony, when did you become so temperamental?”

The four boys were seated around a small campfire James and Sirius had put up earlier in the evening. Each had a stick in hand and was roasting sweets or sausages over the flame. In the background was music coming from Sirius’s phonograph. It was currently playing one of Remus’s Beatles albums. Sirius had been spearing Chocolate Frogs, one after the other, onto his stick for the past five minutes and had almost filled up the entire stick. The only problem was that he was out of Chocolate Frogs and he did not feel like bending down to pick up the two that he needed to complete his pudding. Remus and James were watching the exchange between Peter and Sirius with exasperated looks. Finally, Remus had had enough.

“Well, the frogs were three feet away from you. You can’t be that lazy,” Remus explained calmly, turning over the marshmallow he was roasting. He flinched when a flame grew onto it and attempted to blow it out. When the flame was extinguished and floating away, he said, “So, school tomorrow.”

Remus and Peter would be joining the Potters and Sirius on their journey to Platform Nine and Three Quarters. As Mr. and Mrs. Lupin were away on a trip Harry needed to take for his article he was writing, they were unable to bring their son to the train station. They would have taken Remus with them, but the trip fell too close to school starting. He had been staying with the Potters for the past week. Not wanting to be left out, Peter arrived two days after Remus had. The boys were making the best of their time this night, knowing that Hannah would out there soon to tell them to get to bed. Mrs. Potter did not want the boys groggy and holding up the trip the next morning.

“I’ll have to arrange Quidditch tryouts during the first week,” James lamented, picking off an overly burnt piece of his marshmallow and observing it through narrowed eyes. He didn’t truly mind having to do this, but his mind was not in organisational mode yet.

“Nice one, by the way, making captain,” Sirius congratulated, spearing his final Chocolate Frog onto his stick with more force than was needed. “Only took four years for McGonagall to appoint you.”

“I don’t care when I got captain, as long as I got it.” James pulled apart his marshmallow and ate it, wincing as it burned his tongue. Taking a sip of pumpkin juice to cool it, he went on. “So… OWL scores?”

The boys had been putting off revealing what grades they had received on their OWL examinations. Now seemed as good a time as any to reveal them. Besides, they would figure it out when Professor McGonagall went to work out their schedules with them.

Sirius grinned brightly. He had been quite pleased with his scores. “Exceeds Expectations in everything and Outstanding in Defence Against the Dark Arts and Charms.” Sirius bit off the gooey head of the first Chocolate Frog. “I thought I was going to fail History of Magic. I was sure I’d made up half of my answers. Thanks for those notes, by the way, Moony.”

Remus grinned sardonically. “Don’t mention it.” It wasn’t as if he had much of a choice. Sirius had all but pulled Remus’s hands off in the process of taking them from him.

Sirius’s grin grew. “At least I can drop the bloody subject now.”

“Lucky,” Remus muttered. He desperately wished he was able to say the same thing.

“You know, you don’t have to take it.”

“McGonagall said I should.” He knew the Transfiguration professor had his best interests at heart when she advised him to continue with the dreadfully boring subject, yet it did not stop him from being angry about it. He may have taken notes, but he only did that to keep himself from falling asleep and snoring. Professor McGonagall insisted he continue with any class he was eligible to continue with. Seeing as how he had passed with an Exceeds Expectations in History of Magic, and Professor Binns admitted anyone daft enough to move on with the course, he was stuck with the monotonous ghost for another two years. He honestly wouldn’t be surprised if he was the only person in the classroom.

Sirius diverted his attention to the messy-haired boy sitting to the left of him. “James, care to share your scores with us?”

“E’s in everything, Outstanding in Transfiguration.” James tried to sound as nonchalant as possible. He really was quite proud of himself.

Sirius nodded. “Pettigrew.”

Peter, who was in the process of roasting a tiny sausage, looked startled when Sirius suddenly addressed him and almost dropped his stick into the fire. “Some E’s, some A’s. Oh, and I got a P in Divination.”

Sirius overlooked the one bad grade; he had never considered Divination to be a real class anyway. “Very commendable. Lupin?”

Remus swallowed his Chocolate Frog with difficulty, the chocolate scalding the inside of his throat. “Bugger,” he hissed. He waited for the burning sensation to die down before answering Sirius’s question. “E’s in mostly everything, O in Defence Against the Dark Arts, and an A in Potions.” Thank Merlin for the help of Lily Evans. Without her, he wouldn’t have gotten that high on that exam. He would have been lucky to get a P. Without her help, he would have probably gotten a T for Troll.

Sirius pulled another Chocolate Frog off his stick and studied it for a moment. “Well,” he stuffed the frog in his mouth, “beer Mewt sbudems bow.”

James pulled a face at his best friend. “Have I told you lately that you’re revolting?”

Sirius swallowed. “At breakfast, I believe.”

“Well, I’m saying it again.”

Sirius flashed a grin. “Thank you, Mr. Potter.”

James rolled his eyes. “So, sixth year tomorrow.” Remus, Sirius and Peter nodded. James smiled broadly. “I think it’s going to be a good one.”

The Hogwarts Express passed through the rainy countryside at a swift pace. The sky was a dark grey, with the occasional crack of lightening illuminating it for mere moments. Violent thunder rumbled in the distance, shaking the ground. The windows of the compartments were nearly impossible to see out of due to the ceaseless rain dripping constantly down the glass and the fog resulting from it. The lanterns in the train had long ago been lit, offering a ghostly orange glow to those who viewed the train passing by outside, though no one did.

The Prefect meeting had just ended and the Prefects were happy to see that the Head Girl this year, a Hufflepuff by the name of Julia Heinz, was not psychotic. In fact, she made it a point to mention that it was not in her nature to blow up at the Headmaster because one of her Prefects was unable to make his patrol. Every head in the compartment instinctively turned to Remus at this point, though none of them, even the Slytherins, looked angry with him. It was due to the first full moon of the previous year that the Prefects had gotten to take full advantage of the former Head Girl. The Head Boy, Gryffindor Oliver Pulliman, was also not as spineless as the previous Head Boy.

“Going to find your friends?” Lily casually asked Remus as they exited the compartment when the meeting had ended.

Remus nodded, yawning slightly. The full moon was exactly one week away. He had to admit, he was rather excited about it. James had promised him they would not be late this time and they had a surprise waiting for him. His excitement was clouding his better judgement, as he knew full well that a surprise devised by James Potter and Sirius Black was usually one that involved several explosions at the same time. “Yeah, they’re waiting.”

Lily suddenly seemed uncomfortable. She was biting her lip and shifting her weight from left foot to right foot and back to her left foot. “Would… would they mind if I came with you?”

Remus could not stop the stunned expression from sliding onto his face. He never, in his wildest dreams, thought he would ever hear Lily Evans ask that question. “You… you don’t want to sit with Snape?” He knew that the Gryffindor and Slytherin had been at odds at the completion of fifth year, but he thought they might have resolved what had gone on, gotten past the bad feelings. Apparently they had not.

Remus felt himself shiver at the thought of the Slytherin, who had been shooting him scathing looks throughout the entire Prefect meeting. Snape was going to use his knowledge of Remus’s Lycanthropy as blackmail, that much was obvious. The question was: When was it going to happen?

“No… well, you know what happened.” Lily’s tone was bitter.

“What about Frank and Alice?” Remus knew that Lily would choose them as her second option. She was friends with them; she could more than tolerate their existence. Sitting with the remaining Gryffindor sixth years would definitely be her last resort.

Lily’s smile was exasperated. “They’re in that stage of their relationship where it’s nauseating to have to sit with them.”

Remus nodded knowingly. He knew Frank and Alice had liked each other since second year at the earliest. It was bound to turn into something more. He honestly couldn’t blame Lily for not wanting to sit with two love struck teenagers. It would be a sickening and extremely awkward situation. Then again, James was love struck with her. Though, Remus had to admit, James was not nearly as revolting about it. But, if Remus was Lily, he would have considered Frank and Alice the lesser of two evils. James was relentless in his pursuit of her. He may have been more bearable about his love interests, but he would not let the matter drop. “Well, sure, I don’t think they’ll mind.”

Lily smiled gratefully and followed Remus down the corridor as they tried to locate the compartment the others had procured. They found it midway down the train and what they saw when they arrived was not good. The door was open and someone Remus distinctly recognised as Regulus Black was standing just inside. As they edged closer to the compartment, they could see through the window that Sirius was on his feet, his face blotched red with anger and his fists clenched tightly at his sides. This was the first time Sirius had come in contact with anyone in his family since he ran away. Tensions were high between the Blacks; it was all bound to boil over sooner or later. Lily sensed the two boys were mad with each other, though she did not understand the extent of it.

“You broke Mother’s heart!” Regulus accused Sirius furiously. Regulus’s voice was rising with each word he spoke.

Sirius let out a noise that was unmistakably a hiss of fury. He flexed his hands as if he was tempted very much to punch his little brother in the face. “I broke her heart? You can’t be serious, Regulus!”

“She hasn’t been the same since the summer!”

“Is it because she can’t force her stupid ideas on someone else? Is it because she doesn’t have me to insult all the time? Because those are the only reasons I can think of that would upset her.”

Lily glanced questioningly at Remus, who shook his head silently. This wasn’t the best time to explain things. It would come out in the arguement, anyway.

“She never wanted you to leave!

Sirius laughed loudly and derisively. “You mean she wasn’t thrilled when she finally got to blast my name off the stupid family tree? I thought she had been waiting for that day all of my life.”

“You don’t understand, Sirius. You broke her heart!”

“She never had one to break! She never cared about me or how I felt about anything. All of you – you and Mum and Dad – never gave a damn about what I thought! You never cared about what happens to me. You would all just tell me that I was going nowhere in life because I don’t believe the rubbish you all buy into. I had enough of it! I left! Get over it!” Sirius stomped forward and pushed his younger brother out of the compartment, forcing Remus and Lily to step back so they would not be drawn into the fray.

“Mother has a heart, and you broke it,” Regulus insisted forcefully.

Sirius’s voice was low and utterly reluctant when he spoke. His face contorted in a way that suggested he was admitting something painful. “Yeah… well… we’re even, then.” He stepped back from his brother. “Go find the scum you call friends.”

Regulus gave his brother a look of the utmost loathing before he disappeared down the train corridor. When his brother was gone, Sirius exhaled loudly and leaned against the wall, staring at the carpet. His face was still tinged red with the anger that was undoubtedly coursing violently through him. Remus and Lily glanced uneasily at each other, unsure of what to do. Luckily, or unluckily, Sirius spotted them before they had to say anything. He smiled wanly at them and jerked his head towards the compartment.

“You two saw that?”

The two Prefects nodded guiltily.

Sirius laughed bitterly. “Regulus was trying to make me see the error of my ways. Bloody prat.”

“You… you ran away from home?” Lily asked tentatively. Sirius nodded darkly. Lily bit her lip. She had often heard Sirius complain that he hated his family, but she had just thought it was because something didn’t go his way and he was being immature about it. She had never realised his home was so unbearable he would leave it before he had to. From the little she heard, she assumed Sirius didn’t leave because of an immature reason. “I’m… I’m sorry you had to do that.”

This time, Sirius’s smile was not harsh or bitter. “Don’t be. I like where I live now better, anyway.”

“W-where do you live?”

“With James’s family.” Sirius straightened up. “Excuse me, the loo calls.” Sirius nodded to the two and went off in the direction Regulus had taken moments earlier.

“Sirius ran away?” Lily said to Remus, trying to grasp the concept. She could never picture running away from her home. No matter how much she and Petunia fought, it was one place where Lily felt she was always welcomed. She could never dream of leaving her parents behind. Then again, Sirius was always at odds with his entire family. It must have been too much for him to handle and he just snapped.

Remus nodded sadly. “I just know what you know. I don’t know exactly what his parents said to him. He only told James that. But I do know he just didn’t want to be there anymore, so he left.” Remus finished in a very matter-of-fact voice that told Lily there wasn’t any more he could tell her. He beckoned her forward and they entered the compartment, where they found James and Peter sitting in silence. “Hey,” Remus greeted them.

The two boys jumped slightly at his voice. “Hey,” they replied. James’s eyes darted from Remus to Lily and his eyes turned curious. “What brings you here, Evans?”

“I needed somewhere to sit, Potter,” Lily responded coolly, taking the empty space beside Peter.

There was a small hint of scathing in James’s voice. “And so you didn’t go find Snivelly?”

Remus and Peter simultaneously rolled their eyes. James was forever going on about how Lily would never give him a chance. He certainly didn’t go out of his way to earn that chance. He was the king of tactlessness.

“You know as much as anyone else about that.” Lily’s voice was too cool now and the two boys in the compartment who were not bothering her sensed that if James kept this up, she would go sit by herself. Remus and Peter were surprised, however, when Lily did not say the fault rested with James. To anyone who had witnessed the spectacle, it would have appeared as if, without James’s provoking, Snape never would have called Lily that foul word.

James studied the girl for a moment before diverting his attention to his friends and changing the subject completely. “When are your parents getting home, Remus?”

“Sometime next week,” Remus told him as he got up and peered into the luggage rack above his seat to make sure that his owl, Jude, was not hungry. He glanced over his shoulder at James. “They liked Rome, so they decided to spend some time there without having to worry about my dad’s article. He got it all finished.”

“Good thing the Prophet is paying for it,” Peter commented abruptly, though his face reddened deeply after he uttered the words. The boys knew that Remus’s parents would not normally be able to afford such a long trip. They had spent a lot of their money on finding cures for Remus’s Lycanthropy. They had been doing this for thirteen years and the expenses were finally catching up with them. The latest cure they had looked into was a tiny pill that Remus was supposed to eat during his actual transformation. It did nothing except give him bad indigestion for two days afterward. All of the ridiculous cures never worked, yet they cost almost as much as a house did.

Lily’s eyes darted from Peter’s red face, to James’s accusing stare, and finally to Remus’s forced indifferent look. Casually, she tried to break the tension that had just filled the compartment. “Your dad works for the Prophet?

Remus nodded, sitting down again after pushing some owl treats into Jude’s cage. “You know that, I’ve showed you articles by him.”

Now it was time for Lily’s cheeks to grow pink. “Oh… oh, yes, I remember them. They were quite good.” She remembered Remus had, once or twice, brought in newspaper clippings his father had written. The byline was familiar now that she was able to recall it: by Harry Lupin. She still wondered why the three had grown tense at Peter’s utterance of the Daily Prophet funding one their worker’s trips. Companies did that all the time, didn’t they? At least she knew Muggle companies did. She couldn’t say she was certain the same held true in the Wizarding World. She shook the thought out of her mind; she was not nearly friendly enough with these boys to pry farther than she had.

“Is Sirius okay?” Peter asked.

“He went to the bathroom,” Remus told him. “He’ll probably be fine.”

“Yeah,” James agreed. “He’ll just go find some Slytherins to hex and he’ll be back to his cheerful self.”

The corners of Lily’s mouth twitched downward at James’s statement. Clearly she did not think hexing Slytherins was a good form of catharsis. Instead of reproaching them, however, she simply settled for a less threatening course of conversation. “So, what classes are you taking this year?”

“I get to drop Divination!” Peter cheered, punching two victorious fists in the air. He had been waiting three years to say that, ever since he first saw the tea leaves, and now he finally got his chance. “And History of Magic!”

“I think everyone’s been waiting to drop that one.” Lily smiled. “That and Care of Magical Creatures.” She wondered what Professor Kettleburn’s face would look like when he saw all of his former fifth years had dropped his class.

Remus grumbled mutinously under his breath about most boring class known to witches and wizards alike.

“Remus doesn’t get to drop History of Magic,” James explained to Lily. James sighed and shook his head. “No one said you had to take it, mate.”

Remus growled heatedly. “For the millionth time, McGonagall told me!”

“You didn’t have to listen to her. Do you honestly think Professor Binns is ever going to leave his post? He died here and he’s going to stay here.”

Remus’s eyes widened brightly in realisation. James was right. He didn’t have to take the class. No one in their right mind would continue with that class unless they were clubbed over the head and dragged there and bound in their chair. “You’re right… Binns is never leaving. I’m never going to teach History of Magic!”

“Granted, Remus, I bet a lot of students would rather you teach it to them than that brick wall.”

“But I’m not going to teach it. Sweet Merlin, McGonagall’s not making take that stupid class.”

“You’d probably be the only person sitting there.” The four looked up to see Sirius had returned to the compartment. He had an ominously grim, yet pleased, look on his face that told them he had done just as James had predicted – he had gone to take his anger out on some unsuspecting Slytherins.

“You know, Sirius,” Lily began hesitantly. She had just seen him blow up at his own brother, who was to say he wouldn’t snap at her? Yet, she didn’t believe that Sirius Black would truly yell at a girl, one that he wasn’t related to, anyway. “I don’t reckon you should hex Slytherins just because you’re angry.”

“You don’t, do you?” Sirius’s tone was unreadable. He sat down beside James and studied Lily as though she was a mildly interesting painting. “Well, that’s how I handle my anger, Evans.”

“You’d better be careful. If you don’t stop, I’ll-”

“Take points from Gryffindor?” Sirius challenged, smiling at the thought of Lily taking points from her own house. Lily was too loyal to Gryffindor to do more than make an empty threat. “Stick me in detention? It’s not as if I’m not familiar with the place. I’ve missed doing lines and scrubbing floors, actually.”

James snorted.

Lily shot him an angry glare. “It shouldn’t surprise me that you find it funny. You never thought twice about humiliating Severus.”

James eyed her scathingly. They had come to it at last. “And Severus never thought twice about calling you a Mudblood, so why would you defend him?”

The patches of pink in Lily’s cheeks brightened. “He was my friend, Potter. You should know about defending your friends.”

“You said the keyword, Evans. He was your friend. Even you saw the light and realised he’s no good.”

Lily’s hands clenched over her knees. James was pushing it. “You forced him into calling me a Mudblood!”

James smiled. He was calm and composed. He was not in the slightest shaken by Lily’s rising voice. He looked to be enjoying it. “Did I? He had a choice; he didn’t have to call you that. You clearly noticed that because you don’t speak to him anymore.”

Lily leapt from her seat. “I don’t have to listen to this,” she declared furiously.

“Then why did you come sit and with us? You obviously knew we were going to behave like this. We don’t like Snape, Lily. He’s not your friend anymore, so I don’t see why it should bother you.”

Lily made a snarling noise in the back of her throat and bolted from the compartment, slamming the compartment door shut behind her.

James watched her go with an unfazed expression. When he ripped his attention away from the doorway, he looked back at his friends, who were all looking away pointedly. “What?”

Sirius rolled his eyes in his all-knowing manner. “You’re so oblivious, Prongs.”

“About what?”

“You want her to like you and you insult her former best mate!”

“So? She was the one who decided to stop speaking with him. I didn’t tell her to!”

“That’s not how girls work, James,” Remus pointed out sadly. “And that is definitely not how Lily Evans works.” He straightened up in his seat. “She picked sitting with us over sitting with Frank and Alice so-”

“Yeah, well, they’re probably revolting to sit around right now.”

“-so you probably should have been nicer to her. She could have gone to sit with them, but she picked us to come and sit with. That means she probably thought she could tolerate you long enough.”

James groaned. “Why are two guys who have never had girlfriends coaching me on this?”

Remus and Sirius exchanged glances. Then Sirius smirked. “How do you know I’ve never had a girlfriend?”

“Because you haven’t. I think I would know if you had.”

“Remember Mary Macdonald?”

“Yeah, she tried out for Quidditch one year.” James blinked, comprehension dawning. “Oh, Padfoot, not her?

“Well, she wasn’t officially my girlfriend…” Sirius let his voice trail away in a manner that suggested James should work out the rest for himself.

James looked horrified at first, but then he saw the gleam in his best friend’s eyes.

“You’re yanking my wand, aren’t you?”

Sirius let out a barking laugh. “Of course I am!” He cleared his throat. “But, honestly James, just because neither of us has had a girlfriend doesn’t mean we don’t know how girls work. We all hate Snape, hell I proved that the most out of all of you, but don’t berate him like that in front of Lily.”

Remus’s suddenly loud voice cut into their conversation. “Are you bloody serious?

“Er… Remus?”

“I was telling you that all last year and you never listened to me! Now you’re going to tell him that?” Remus looked down at his watch and muttered something about having to patrol the corridors. He stormed from the compartment and slammed the door shut.

Sirius chuckled once he was gone and turned to James. “I love it when he gets mad like that.”

Excerpt from Chapter Fifty Four: Twisted Offers

Who knew how long it would take before he held something against Lily, Peter, Alice and Frank? Well, it would take almost no time at all for him to despise Lily, as she was a Muggle-born.

“And it doesn’t bother you when he looks at you like you’re going to sink your teeth into him?” Sirius questioned doubtfully. Remus disliked any stereotype thrown at him because of his Lycanthropy. Sirius knew it had to bother him.

Remus set his bag down on the table and calmly sat down. “Personally, I think he would taste disgusting, so I would never do it. So, no, it doesn’t bother me.”

“I still think he’s pure evil,” Sirius lamented stubbornly, dropping into his seat and glaring crossly at the empty golden platter in front of him.

“Going to blame your lunch on your problems, are you?” James chided, sitting down beside Sirius and looking for something to eat and take his mind off the horrific class they had just experienced.

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