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"I hate my family," Sirius Black grouches, crossing his arms and pouting. He's only seven and he already looks at his parents, aunts, uncles, and cousins with malice. Well. Not Andromeda and Regulus. Andy is cool, and Regulus, while a bit of a boot-licker, is nevertheless Sirius's brother…

"I see." Alphard wheezes his laughter, takes a sip of his drink, spits it out again, and shoves a bezoar down his throat.

"Look!" Sirius cries in dismay. "They tried again!" As the words leave his mouth, the boy glances around nervously, once again double-checking there's no-one else in the room.

"Four more years to Hogwarts," Alphard says soothingly. "And don't worry about me. I'll just keep dodging 'em." He smirks and grabs a glass of untainted water.

"I'm going to be a Gryffindor," Sirius whispers determinedly. "Not a stinking Slytherin."

"Hey, Sirius. I'm a Slytherin, you know," Alphard chuckles, though he stops as Sirius's eyes widen slightly and he flinches backward. "Calm down, child, I'm not going to hurt you."

"I won't be a Slytherin," Sirius vows softly yet nervously. "I'll be a Gryffindor and have Gryffindor friends and – and I'll be free."

"There's nothing wrong with Slytherin," Alphard tells him, but Sirius has set his jaw. "I see. Rebellious, much?"

"No, Uncle Alphard," the boy replies, suddenly stiff.

Alphard sighs and makes himself more comfortable. "Alright, Sirius. You go be a Gryffindor. But do me a favour, won't you, son?"

"Yes, Uncle?" Sirius asks curiously.

"Don't let the rest of our family make you hate the house. Ah!" he holds up a hand as Sirius opens his mouth. "I will admit, the house is not in a good shape. But I implore you to remember the values Slytherin was built on. Ambition, resourcefulness, cunning. Like it or not, Sirius, you are a Black, and it wouldn't do for you to throw it away in rebellion. You can go to Gryffindor. But be a clever one, not a boorish idiot."

"How?" Sirius demands worriedly. "Slytherin and Gryffindor don't mix!"

Alphard laughs again. "How do you think I got through my life, lad? It takes bravery to live around this family." He leans forward, becoming more sober. "Promise me, my favourite nephew, that you will not toss everything away just to anger the others. The downfall of Gryffindor is recklessness and a lack of delicacy. Be the knight that kills his enemy before they ever face each other."

"O-okay," Sirius says.

"Swear it," Alphard insists, holding out a hand.

The boy holds out his own hand and grasps his uncle's tightly. "I swear, Uncle Alphard."

The weary man cracks a grin. "Good boy, Sirius. Now, I believe I have something for you…"

Sirius's eyes go bright, but he wilts as he sees what his uncle holds out. "It's a book."

"A diary." Alphard's eyes twinkle.

"But… I'm not a girl. I don't need a diary. What would I put in there?"

"Anything you like. Your worries. Your dreams. Your feelings, if you wish. Swear words you pick up. Types of poison. Cake recipies. Anything." Alphard wiggles the book. "Go on."

"Thanks," the boy says grudgingly, taking the book and turning it over. It's plain black with a leather cover and thin, white pages devoid of lines. A silk bookmark hangs from the spine. "I guess I could use it…"

"Is there a problem?" the old man asks mildly.

"What if mother finds it?"

Alphard taps his nose. "She won't see anything. I put a password on it. Audacia fortuna iuvat."

"Fortune favours the bold," Sirius murmurs.

His uncle nods. "Just don't throw the fortunes away."

1st September, 1971 – 11:00 AM

Mother and Father are insufferable. "Don't shame the family," they say. Everyone else says something normal, like "We'll miss you," or "Good luck," or even "We love you." But no, I get "Don't shame the family."

I don't care. I'm getting into Gryffindor if I have to jump off the tallest tower to do it. I can't go to Hufflepuff, I'm definitely no Ravenclaw, and wouldn't last in Slytherin without taking up the family businesses against the entire place. What are the family businesses again? Bribery, torture, and murder. Charming, aren't we?

Uncle Alphard gave me another reminder on my last birthday, when he gave me my owl, Frogmuncher. I am going to be the Chimaera – a lion at the business end, with a snake for a tail to catch the unwary. I like the sound of that, I really do. I can be brave and daring and ambitious and resourceful and cunning all at once without having to carry around my stupid family's – baggage. I just hope I can get into Gryffindor, because I'm only chivalrous on Wednesdays.

No, I don't hope. I will. I will be a lion. My family won't know what hit them.

1st September, 1981 – 3:00 PM

I've met a nice guy on the train. James F. Potter, pureblood son of the guy who invented Sleakeazy's hair potion, not that it seems to do anything for his own hair, scruffy black mop that it is. He's got a wide grin and big glasses in front of hazel eyes that gleam whenever I mention mischief. He was a bit wary of me at first – stupid last name! He seemed to warm up to me a little after I called Trixie dearest batshit crazy (I'm so glad we walked past that half-blood when I was nine, because it's the best phrase I've ever heard). He's still a little unsure, though, even after I confirmed I was only a snob on every second Saturday and explained how I planned to give Mummy Dearest an aneurysm. I don't know what aneurysms are, per se, but one of my aunts had one once and ended up in St Mungo's, so here's hoping. James is a prospective Gryffindor like me (and ribbing me horribly about writing here, by the way) – apparently his father was a lion too. Here's hoping – he's obviously one of the privileged end of the light and might take some training into the art of being subtle as a mist and a foghorn at the same time, but I like him already.

Two people came past our compartment on the way, too. One of them is a greasy-haired, hook-nosed, sallow-skinned guy with a perpetual scowl, while his friend was a seemingly sweet, green-eyed red-headed girl. The first is Severus Snape, Eileen Prince's half-blood son, a grouchy thing bound for Slytherin; the other is Lily Evans, a muggleborn from the same town who is apparently his best friend. James doesn't like Snape, thinks he has an air of dark wizard around him – I guess he does, but the Blacks have been introducing corruption to the upstanding politicians of the Ministry for hundreds of years, and I fully intend on using these inbuilt talents on my year-mates. Half-bloods have potential, as I explained to James. They're the freest to move between the light and dark factions. The sooner we grab onto them, the easier it is to keep them out of my family's grabbing, evil hands. At least, that's what Uncle said. Personally, I'm planning on turning the entire grade (and the lower ones, if I can) into a legion of hellspawn for the kicks of it. I told James so when he was being upset at me for stomping his feet to shut him up, that and my plan to paint an entire tower pink and get away with it by graduation. James likes pranks, so I think I had him there. We're going to start a gang.

1st September, 1971 – 11:PM

Living in a dormitory is different. There are curtains around all the bed, but everything is so communal, so… familial. The beds are close to each other, the walls covered in scarlet and gold. The ceiling's high and the windows are large and let in the light. Not like Grimmauld Place, where it's gloomy and dusty and the rooms are suffocating and covered in mucky green and grey (don't tell me it's silver, because it isn't.) Gryffindor tower is big and bright and free and I love it, I really do.

I'll be sharing with a whole five other people, and I figure that eventually I'll be sick of at least one of them, but at this point I couldn't care less. Look at me. Sirius Black, the Gryffindor, in the Gryffindor tower, about to make Gryffindor friends and attempt to corrupt an entire grade level – generation, if I can. Oh yes, this is going to be brilliant, even if James still isn't quite sure of me.

Speaking of James, he made everyone in the dormitory introduce themselves. He reckons he's the most awesome guy in the UK and he told us he likes Zonko's – no surprise there – and Quidditch. He barracks for the Tornadoes, though. Merlin.

Next to my bed is Frank Longbottom – poor kid, his ancestors pissed someone off, though he seems unbothered – who's going into the Auror force when he graduates. He likes watching duels and marmalade jam. Frank has dark brown hair and a round face and he mutters 'Merlin' every time James or I says something weird. I'm definitely getting him a gag gift for Christmas.

Next to Frank is Peter Pettigrew, who has mousy brown hair and rather large front teeth. He really is just like a little mouse – he told us he likes cheese, of all things, and he speaks with a lisp. It's actually sort of endearing. He also says he's trash at Quidditch and is interested in Charms. Sounds about right.

Next to Peter is Kingsley Shacklebolt, who has dark skin and a gold earring in one ear. It looks awesome, but Kingsley's all calm and serious; he likes blue and quiet mornings and Defence, so I suppose he's in for it living around me. Sorry, mate. At least none of us snore – at least, nobody owned up when he asked about it.

My last dorm-mate is Remus Lupin, a skinny guy with pale brown hair and light green eyes. Looks like he got into an accident before he got here, because he's got a pretty sick cut across his face. He told us he liked reading, and James attempted to ward him off with quills in the shape of a crucifix. He also likes chocolate, though, so we know he's not a demon – not like Mummy Dearest. He was so quiet – I wonder how he got in?

I told everyone I had the best face they'd see these seven years and copped a sock to the face for it from James. I told everyone I liked giving my family conniptions and corrupting younger people, and Frank looked a little like he had begun to die inside. I hope they remember the grin I have them. I misappropriated it off Bella. But I do it better.

October 20th, 1971 – History of Magic

James is weirdly happy about Evans being a Gryffindor. Still doesn't like Snape, though. He ended up in the snake pit, which is irritating. James doesn't get it yet, even though I explained he and Lily were a package deal, and the half-blood thing again, and that we needed a competent potions brewer if we were going to give Cissy a zit outbreak. James was a bit surprised I'd let him hex my cousins. I reminded him my family is a bunch of prats, and that the Dark families were so inbred it was a miracle I had such a wonderful face. Blacks have wonderful faces – shame about the fact we're all nutters. Still, could be Goyles or Crabbes – that lot bred out their brains – or Parkinsons – they bred out their FACES.

Oh, yeah and we managed to corrupt Peter. It wasn't that hard. He's been following us around for a good while now. Neither of us really knows what to do with him, but he's fairly cute and adores us, and being adored is quite a nice change. We're smuggling a Devil's Snare from the greenhouse through this secret passageway we found that leads to the Charms classroom.

There are three of us now! We're officially a gang. We don't have a name, though.

November 4th, 1971 – 9 PM

James tried to repeat the Tentacula stunt on Cassius Macmillan after he made a comment on James's glasses and Peter's teeth. We got away with the first one, but the Tentacula got him this time. James has the marks to prove it. Evans noticed and James tried to cover it up. Evans said he was a nightmare. James insists he's a dream. Evans assumed I helped him – I'm flattered, really. It was all Peter, though. I prefer my face intact.

December 1st, 1971

Remus Lupin always sits alone. He twitches when people get too close, speaks quietly or not at all, and is always buried in a book. He vanishes once a month – Kingsley says it's because his mother is ill. His face and hands are often marked by healing cuts that appear when he arrives back at school and disappear over time. He has scars. Where does he have scars from? Only really dark curses leave scars that can't be vanished. I should know (thanks so much, Daddy Dearest).

Whatever causes the scars, it makes Remus retreat from other people. He's really quiet, and when he does speak, it's either sensible or dry. He's a dork around people. But an interesting dork. I'll corrupt him next.

I went over to talk to him today. He was reading his book, Beginner's Transfiguration. Funny; around everyone else he's so very geeky and awkward, but he seemed fairly capable of being sarcastic to me – refused to blow up the toilet or help me dye Mrs Norris purple before I'd said anything. I had to explain to him that we don't repeat pranks, and that I wanted help graffitiing "Mary Fawley Loves Slughorn" on the walls. He refused that too. I told him we'd get to him eventually. His mouth twitched. He find me amusing. Good. He worries about us being caught – he's too cautious. I told him we had ways around it. His resolve is waning, I know it.

Christmas, 1971 – 9PM

I'm such a sap. I saw all my presents today – from real friends, not pure-blood books or robes, real, solid presents, and I couldn't stop staring at them until someone came over and snapped me out of it. It's so stupid – I'm not normally this saccharine, honestly, but it just felt so good. James reckons the madness is setting in. I threw a pillow at his head.

I got chocolate frogs and a bag of Bulbadox Powder from James, toffees from Peter, a notebook from Remus, Quidditch posters from Frank, socks from Kingsley. Kingsley gave everyone he knew socks, even the headmaster. The headmaster wore them, said people insist on giving him books. I know the feeling.

Frank told James and I we were idiots for giving him five jars of marmalade, but then he started eating one of the jars with a spoon, so I guess he liked it. His initial face was well worth it. He ate half the jar today and even put some on his Christmas turkey. He's crazy in his own way.

Kingsley was inordinately happy when Remus gave him quills. Everyone else gave him candy, but Kingsley was focussed on the quills, because his were dying. Talk about nuts.

James gave Peter a box of cheese-flavoured candy. Peter didn't know how to feel about it. He liked the taste, though.

Speaking of James Potter, he is apparently sensitive to jellybeans, because he ate half a box and was high for the entire day. Evans thought he had taken some muggle drug, but nope. Just the beans. It was brilliant, he was all starry-eyed and enthusiastic, even at the sprouts, and he pulled a cracker with Peter so hard they landed on the floor. Unfortunately, nobody took any pictures.

Remus was odd. His family isn't exactly well-to-do, I think, and he got so upset when we gave him, and I quote, "Half the sweet shop and the library!" He thought he couldn't accept it because he couldn't pay it back, the poor daft bugger. We tried to make him feel better – James reckons his Mom thinks the way to make a boy big and strong is sweets, which, according to Frank, explains a lot. Peter was all enthusiastic about the scarf Remus gave him – it's second hand, to Remus's immense shame, but Peter is in love with it. In the end, I threatened to have James and Peter hold him down while I enacted the Black method of persuasion – torture. By tickling, of course. I'm not a monster.

Remus didn't believe me.

I went through with it.

He's eating a chocolate frog now. Ha.

February 17th, 1972 – 1 AM

I'm so proud. We've finally done it, corrupted our first difficult mark.

Not Snape or Evans – shame, that, but Evans just rolls her eyes and Snape refused to brew us a Giggling Solution. Nah. We got Remus, poor sweet Remus who takes notes in History of Magic while everyone else is asleep, who answers McGonagall's hardest questions and bemoans rule-breaking, who shares his candy and reads his books and always looks tired, who's timid around other children and has little scars on his arms. Poor, sweet, innocent Remus.

I'm cackling like Bella. Oh, this is wonderful. I honestly like him better than Peter, because he doesn't give me doe eyes but acts like an equal, even if he is a massive nerd, but I despaired of how to go about this. But we've done it.

He only held onto the pot of glue, and I may have bribed him a little with chocolates, and he may have had a mini-panic attack, but he went along with us and let us put the glue on the teacher's bench and he won't spill, he swore it.

We've got a good track record, you know – one count of mucking up and getting attacked by a murderous plant, and one set of detentions after we blew up a toilet – and that was for reckless use of fireworks ("You foolish boys!" McGonagall said) because we managed to set things up to look like an accident. The empty hole was gushing water for two whole days, so the detention was worth it.

I'm proud of our little gang. A tentative four members, now. This is wonderful.

April 2nd, 1972 – 8PM

James petrified Dorian Bole Jr. today, ostensibly because he made Marlene McKinnon cry, though it's really because Snape is protected, and he needs to attack Slytherins. It was a good shot, and I said so. Peter clearly thought so, because he was doing the doe-eye thing again. Remus looked uncomfortable and appreciative at the same time, which was an interesting look. He's not quite up to scratch yet, but we're getting there.

Snape said he'd tell Slughorn, and James couldn't resist a "Go on, then." Lily was with Snape, too, and she didn't say anything to James, though she looked disapproving. When James and Peter had left, she started digging into poor Remus. She gets on best with him, because they're both weirdos who like studying, though not as much as Kingsley. To his credit, Remus stood up alright, citing Marlene from what I heard. Lily is friends with Marlene, and I think it might have started to get through. She "Doesn't know about us." Ha ha.

Snape didn't end up telling Slughorn, though. Why? Because I pointed out to him – quietly, while walking past – that Bole was the one continually pushing him around within Slytherin. He went all stiff when I mentioned it. Uncle Alphard was right, loud and boisterous and "Good one, James!" and sneaky can mesh together. We got away with it because nobody in the crowd would implicate us. I love it.

It wasn't a coincidence James hexed Bole. He's been going on about his hatred of the house for a while now. I pointed him in the right direction, so he'd get away with it. He appreciates it. He'd better – I paid off Dromeda three galleons afterwards for the information. Remus found out Dromeda calls me Siri – I had to explain that my girly nicknames is only there because the witch refuses to call me Mr Handsome. Remus reckons he can't think why. He's a sarcastic little shit. He calls me Siri now. I regret nothing.

June 15th – History of Magic

Oh, Merlin.

I just realized what I've done this year. Apparently it's visible, because James just asked me if I'm alright. He calls me mate – I'm his best mate, his Gryffindor mate. I'm going to lie and say I'm fine.

I'm not fine. My family sent me nothing for Christmas, hasn't written a single letter this whole year. They're really harsh on poor Andromeda just because she doesn't hate muggles – I thought there was something wrong with me as a child when I didn't think muggles were like dogs, Merlin!

Dromeda is a Slytherin – she's sneaky and figures out loopholes and the only reason they hate her is because she doesn't believe in blood purity. Everything else about her is fine! My family keeps trying to KILL my favourite uncle because he doesn't hate muggles. He's a Slytherin as well, married a pureblood, the whole hog!

What the hell are they going to do to me?

I don't want to go back home.

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