Goodbyes and First meetings
Alice felt a little bit like she had just entered a strange new reality. There was a chicken sitting next to her plate starring at her. A literal living breathing chicken that had stolen some of her peas. The number 33 was written in bold letters on the tag gracing the bow around the chicken's neck.
"Chadwick!" Hagrid boomed as he ran after a loud rooster. Alice blinked and suddenly felt something heavy sit on her foot. A toad had made itself comfortable on her shoes. Bats were flying through the hall.
"He promised," Lily hissed from next to her as she evaded a low flying bat. Everything had been pretty normal till the end of Dumbledore's goodbye speech. The great hall was suddenly overrun by mice, bats, toads and chickens. They had appeared out of nowhere.
Her classmates were screaming and screeching as mice ran over their plates. Madame Hooch was standing on the table trying to aim at one of the mice. McGonagall had a dark expression on her face as she transfigured anything that came too close to her. Dumbledore was laughing merrily as a mouse climbed out of his cup. A bang sounded as one of the students tried to leave the great hall. A rain of confetti poured down on the Ravenclaw student's head. Most students were running around and trying to avoid the animals that were seemingly everywhere.
"Potter!" Lily screeched when a chicken that landed on her plate finally broke the camel's back. She got up and stalked over to Potter and his friends.
"Are you going to stare at me for the rest of the evening?" Alice asked the chicken out loud and immediately felt stupid for doing so. The chicken blinked but gave her no answer.
"You promised!" She heard Lily shout from the other end of the table. Alice winced. She didn't envy Potter one bit. Even from here she could hear Potter's smug reply.
"Ah I promised that I would not prank during the rest of the school term. Now it's after the End-of-term feast," Potter replied and Alice would bet her hat that he wore a smug grin.
"So the term has officially ended since it is the End-of-Term feast," Black couldn't help the reply. Alice sighed. Oh Merlin, Lily would lose it.
"Underlining the End in end-of-term," Pettigrew added. Alice got up since it might be a good idea to do some damage control.
"Sorry Lily, you need to be very specific with those two." Lupin apologized with a wince. Alice arrived just in time for Lily to draw her wand. Before she could do something drastic though McGonagall arrived.
"Mr. Potter, Mr. Black, Mr. Lupin and Mr. Pettigrew you all will have detention in the first week of the next term," She said briskly.
"You can't! It's no longer a school year!" Sirius protested.
"He is right! Technically the term ended today!" James said in support.
McGonagall simply arched an eyebrow and answered: "I can and I will. You are lucky that Gryffindor cannot start the next term with minus points."
Alice sighed as she watched the display before her. Lily had calmed down by now but was still glaring at the boys. Alice got distracted when someone tumbled into her back.
"Get it out!" Frank managed to get out between laughter. His friends were openly laughing at him. He was squirming as he tried to catch something that was running around beneath his clothes. Alice reacted completely without thinking. She pulled the back of his shirt up. Frank startled at the touch and a mouse tumbled out.
"Why are you always trying to undress me?" Frank asked over his shoulder with an amused expression. Alice let go of his shirt as if it had burned her. Her face was completely beat red. She was saved from answering when a chicken landed on her head.
Their prank had been a great success. The End-of-term-Feast had ended in chaos just as they had wanted. They had numbered all the animals but had made it so that it seemed that some animals were always missing. 100 mice in which case mouse no. 100 got the number 105 and so it seemed that 5 animals were missing. Filch was pissed at them. They reveled in it.
Somehow it made saying goodbye for this summer easier. Like they made a promise to return together. It didn't chase away the feeling of gloom that hung over them, though.
They had just managed to catch the train on time. Peter had forgotten something so they had to go back and stumbled onto the train completely out of breath.
"Remy please force us to get up earlier next time," James managed to get out between gasps for breath.
"I tried," Remus managed to get out as he slumped onto the seats of the only empty compartment they could find.
"Try harder please," Peter added. Sirius remained silent as he sat down beside the window. James, Peter and Remus shared a worried glance. Sirius had turned suspiciously monosyllabic since the end of the feast. It almost felt as if a dark rain cloud was hanging over his head. James already had a pretty good idea what was going through his best friend's head.
They heaved their trunks onto the rack above their seats. Sirius' and his own owl hooted in protest at the rougher treatment. Peter sneaked them some treats to appease them. The whistle resounded and with a small lurch the train started moving. James sat down beside Sirius.
"Any plans for the summer holydays?" James asked. He could almost feel Sirius' withdraw deeper. He had hit the nail on the head apparently.
"A trip to relatives and nothing else," Remus said with a shrug as he pulled a book out of his bag. If he would get to read it was not guaranteed. It was unlikely.
"Mum wants us to visit Gran and she really wants to visit Denmark again, for about the ninth time." Peter said in a resigned voice.
"I will probably be home the whole time during the summer vacation," James added before turning towards Sirius.
"What are you going to do, Pa-Sirius?" He asked softly. Sirius scoffed and kept his gaze on the landscape flashing by behind the glass of the window.
"Stay in my room and avoid my family," Sirius muttered darkly. His friends shared another worried look.
"You know you can come over anytime you like," James said with a smile. It was the first time Sirius glanced away from the window.
"I think your parents might object to that," Sirius answered.
"Nonsense, they already adore you. They would have no problem with you staying the whole summer holidays." James waved Sirius' concern away with a careless smile.
"Are you sure?" Sirius asked with no small amount of hesitation.
"Why I am getting a sense of déjà vu?" James muttered with fond exasperation. "Of course I am sure. Stop doubting me!" James swatted the back of Sirius' head lightly.
"Okay, Okay! Merlin that's no reason to hit me!" Sirius sulked.
"If you are still feeling unsure, I've got my parents' permission," James said as he pulled a crumbled letter out of his bag. He had asked his parents about Sirius staying with them two weeks prior. He held the letter in front of Sirius face with a triumphant expression.
"Oh," Sirius mumbled as he took the letter from James' hands.
"The invitation is of course also for you two," James said as he grinned at Remus and Peter.
"I should be able to visit as long as there is no full moon," Remus smiled though a grimace hushed over his features at the mention of the full moon.
"Mum is probably going to say no but I might be able to persuade her," Peter said with a rueful grin.
"James, you asked for Reg as well?" Sirius asked. His gaze hadn't strayed from the letter yet.
"Of course I did. He is your little brother," James answered. Last time he hadn't asked. He had hardly known about Sirius' little Brother. The only thing he had known was that he had never answered any of Sirius' letters. James had been miffed with Regulus. By now he knows that the boy was in no way at fault.
"Thank you," The raw gratitude in Sirius' expression made James want to squirm. The smiles Remus and Peter send him weren't helping either.
"It was nothing," James answered with a shrug of his shoulders.
"It's everything," Sirius said intently.
"All right," James conceded. "Now can we please stop talking about all that mushy stuff?"
Remus and Peter laughed at his expression of discomfort and Sirius snickered. Peter pulled out a set of exploding snap cards.
"Maybe we could play?" Peter suggested. James groaned at Sirius eager grin.
"You are going to regret proposing that, Pete." James elaborated.
"Don't listen to the sore loser." Sirius answered with a mischievous laugh. James rolled his eyes and turned towards Remus.
"Come on, Remy put that book away and play with us. I don't want to be crushed on my own." James said.
"Why do I feel like I am going to lose an eyebrow?" Remus muttered in resignation but he put his book aside.
It wasn't Remus that lost one of his eyebrows but Peter and that after the second round.
"Ha! For once it's not me!" James exclaimed.
"Mum is going to throw a fit!" Peter said with dawning horror.
"Maybe we could draw the second eyebrow on for you?" Sirius proposed as he tried and failed to hold back his laughter. His bark like laughter filled the compartment. Peter rammed his elbow into Sirius' side in retaliation.
"Does any of you have a pen or quill that would do the job?" Remus asked with a raised eyebrow.
"No idea, we could try though" James said with a grin.
"It couldn't turn out any worse," Peter said with a resigned sigh. "Go wild!"
"You shouldn't have said that," Remus muttered as he watched Sirius draw on Peter's face. Sirius had actually thrown the rest of their glitter into his blue ink pot. James had long ago given up on even attempting stifling his laughter.
"Please tell me he did not use blue glitter ink," Peter asked with despair in his voice when he noticed the empty bottle of glitter next to the ink.
"Sorry I cannot tell you that," Remus said as he snickered. Peter gapped and ran for the bathroom to search for a mirror all the while hiding the drawn on eyebrow behind his hand. He returned shortly with his face rubbed clean.
"The glitter won't come off," He muttered as he sat back down on his seat, a downtrodden expression clear to see on his face. Remus finally took pity on him.
"Maybe one of the older girls has something for drawing eyebrows?" Remus suggested. A glimmer of hope returned.
In the end they asked Sam for help. The prefect was all too happy to help but only after she laughed at the mention of the blue glittering eyebrow. She drew a neat pretty natural looking eyebrow. Peter thanked her loudly. Sam swore not to tell a soul. She was finding the whole thing way too hilarious.
The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful. James and Sirius got into a tussle on the floor. Peter fell asleep at some point whereas Remus managed to actually read a bit.
Regulus trailed after his parents as they were walking through Kings Cross. There were Muggles everywhere around them. He couldn't help but be fascinated, he had never seen so many Muggles at one place. Some were reading newspapers on which the pictures weren't moving, others were cackling and laughing together in small groups. Two children were playing with a ball that didn't move on its own.
"I cannot understand why we have to go through this Muggle infested train station," His mother's voice pierced through his fascinated staring. It was currently not possible to reach 9 3/4 directly with magical means thanks to an issue with the wards. His parents had voiced their displeasure the whole way.
The grumbling reply of his father went under in the sudden loud announcement from one of the speakers overhead. A train was getting ready for departure. Muggles ran past them jostling Regulus.
He frowned after them. They could have at least apologize. He had thought that Muggles were taught proper manners.
"Regulus, stop dallying," His father's gruff voice said. Regulus hurried after his parents. They were walking with their heads held high, backs straight and an air of cold disdain around them. The Muggles quickly got out of their way.
"Come here Regulus," His mother beckoned him forward. He walked over to her side. She laid a hand on his shoulder. Her pale skin was in stark contrast to his dark robe.
"Stay by my side. You shouldn't get lost especially here surrounded by this filth." Walburga's grip on his arm tightened when a little girl took a step too close to her son.
"Of course, mother." Regulus answered dutiful.
He just managed to stop himself from flinching as he passed through the stone barrier. The platform was full of mingling parents. His parents made their way over to his aunt's side and to the Malfoys. They sneered at anyone that wore muggle attire. Regulus stood dutifully by his parents' side and endured the condescending words. He gritted his teeth when words of pity fell for Sirius. His brother didn't need pity. He was strong, proud and happy where he was.
The sudden growing noise of a steam engine broke off the conversations around him. With a whistle and a cloud of white steam the red Hogwarts Express drove into the train station. In September he would drive to Hogwarts on this train along with his brother. Most parents streamed towards the Hogwarts express but his parents and the Malfoys stayed put.
"Mother, may I go look for Sirius?" Regulus asked. He fought hard to keep the eagerness out of his voice. Walburga frowned down at him. She opened her mouth to refute his plea when his aunt came to his rescue.
"Let him look for your oldest. I for one do not need to get into that mess," His aunt said with a haughty expression. His father nodded in agreement. Walburga pursed her lips into an unhappy line.
"Keep out of the way of the filthy mudbloods," His mother said.
"Yes, Mother." Regulus answered before he calmly walked into the direction of the train. He actually would like to run. He hadn't seen his brother since his departure to Hogwarts last summer. He had missed him even with the many letters he had received.
Parents and students bumped into him as he made his way through the crowd. Everyone was taller than him and that made trying to find his brother more difficult. He barely avoided an elbow to the face. He was surrounded by adults. "Excuse me?" Regulus tried but apparently they didn't hear him. The way was still barred for him. Suddenly a hand grabbed his wrist and pulled him out of mess of bodies.
"Nice to see you again, Reg" A boy with messy hair and glasses said with a broad grin. "Sirius! I found your brother!"
"Over here, James!" Sirius called.
"Come on," James dragged him towards the voice of his brother.
"You were the one that broke into my room!" Regulus exclaimed. He recognized the voice. James let out a booming laugh.
"Me? I would never do something like that!" James answered with a mock offended expression. His eyes were twinkling with mischief. Before Regulus could say anything more he was greeted by a bone crushing hug.
"Hey, Reg!" Sirius whispered into his ear as he tightened his hold. Regulus relaxed and clung to his big brother. The familiar warmth and scent put him at ease in the bustling crowd.
"Pete!" The female screech ripped Regulus out of his peaceful bubble. Sirius let go of him. He looked up to see one of his brother's friends pale drastically.
"May Merlin have mercy on you," James said towards his friend a little wide eyed. A woman with a pastel blue robe and neat blond hair was storming towards them. She was not on the slim side and Regulus had to wince as she barreled into the shortest of Sirius' friends.
"Poor Peter," Sirius managed to get out as he tried to stifle his giggles.
"My Baby! My poor darling! Mommy is here now!" She was crushing him in a hug. Peter looked distinctly uncomfortable. She was fussing over him. Her hands were everywhere trying to make sure that her darling boy was no injured or harmed in any way. Whenever Peter tried to protest she hushed him.
"Let's hope she doesn't notice the eyebrow," A pale boy whispered towards James. It only caused James and Sirius to nearly lose it. They had clasped their hands over their mouths to prevent their laughter from escaping. Still some giggles managed to slip through their fingers.
"Have you lost weight? Are they not feeding you? My poor baby!" She was nearly wailing. Peter's expression was downtrodden and shame faced. James had managed to stop giggling by now.
"I will go rescue him," James said.
"Good afternoon, Ms. Pettigrew," James said as he stepped beside Peter. It finally prompted her to release her son. Peter sent James a grateful look.
"Oh Merlin, let's hope he doesn't make it worse." A deep voice said from behind them.
"Mr. Potter! Good afternoon!" Sirius greeted the new arrival with a broad grin.
"How many times do I have to tell you it's Charlus?" Mr. Potter said with a good natured eye roll. The next moment he had leaned forward and was hugging Sirius.
"Where's Mrs.-Dorea?" At Mr. Potter's arched eyebrow he quickly amended his statement.
"Still in a store in Muggle King's Cross", He answered with a smile. "You must be Regulus. It's a pleasure to meet you,"
"Likewise," Regulus managed to get out, sort of amazed at the warmth with which this man had greeted his brother.
"Dad!" James shouted and barreled into his father who just managed to catch him.
"Hey, squirt!" James and his father shared a laugh.
"You do realize that I had just cleaned that robe?" A female voice said from behind him.
"Mum!" James hugged his mother tightly. She returned the gesture with a warm smile. She kissed his forehead once before turning towards Sirius. She enveloped him in a tight hug as well.
"Hello, Mrs. P." Regulus had never seen his brother grin this broadly. Her warm eyes landed on him next and a smile grazed her lips. Instead of a normal greeting she stepped forward and hugged him as well.
"Nice to meet you Regulus," She said softly. He only managed to nod. Such an open display of affection was something he was not used to in public.
"Remus, dear, come here." The pale boy walked forward and let himself be enveloped in Mrs. Potter's soothing presence.
"Where is Peter?" She asked after a moment.
"In his mother's clutches." Sirius said as he nodded towards Ms. Pettigrew.
"Oh dear, I will go say hello." She said and made her way towards the Pettigrews.
"She might actually be able to rescue him," James concluded with a grin as he watched his mother interact with them.
"She definitely will," Mr. Potter said with a grin.
"Regulus! Sirius!" The voice of Narcissa shouted. All happiness disappeared from his brother's face.
"Mother probably wants to leave," Regulus said quietly. He knew that his brother wouldn't be happy but to see it so plainly on his face was somehow worse.
Sirius was immediately swarmed by his friends. Peter had managed to get away from his mother thanks to Mrs. Potter. They were all hugging him, promising letters and swearing that he can visit anytime.
"Don't forget you and Reg are invited!" James said with a grin.
"I will take you up on that invitation," Sirius said with a small smile.
"Good," The two Potter men said at the same time. It made Sirius laugh lightly.
Mrs. Potter came back towards them with Ms. Pettigrew trailing after her. She enveloped Sirius in a tight hug before hugging Regulus as well. This time he managed to return the gesture. Mr. Potter followed with a slightly more awkward hug for both him and Regulus. James pushed past his parents and into Sirius' space.
"I will miss you" James whispered as he hugged Sirius again. Sirius burrowed his face into his friends shoulder and murmured a reply. They released each other after a while. Sirius took a step back and smiled weakly at his best friend.
"Let's go Reg," Sirius said towards him. The sadness was still in his eyes but it was lessened to a certain extent. Just as he was about to trail after him James grabbed his arm.
"Try to cheer him up and distract him, please." James asked in a worried voice.
"You don't need to ask. He's my brother." Regulus answered. James directed a blinding smile his way, which confused Regulus a bit. He actually stepped forward and hugged him. Regulus was too startled to react.
"I wish you the best holidays," He said before he released him.
"For you too," Regulus answered before he hurried after his brother.