Disclaimer: Everything here (besides the few things you don't know) belongs to JK Rowling, creator of the worlds of Harry Potter.
A/N: Hey, there! Welcome to the 2006 edition of The Story of Four Friends! The brand-new, sparkly, spiffy version! No, really.
After much deliberation and a hiatus of a year or so that was started by an unlucky chain of events, continued by a huge writer's block and then went on forever because of reasons that will be soon revealed, I have decided to rewrite The Story of Four Friends, because I couldn't handle the disorganized way in which I had written the earlier version, not to speak of the grammar and the general construction. Story was written chapter by chapter without any organized chapter plan and no defined plot. After writing my Founders fic, Tale of a Time Long Gone, I have realized that the only way in which I can complete a story is by having everything pre-planned. Plus, ff now has a much nicer variety of things that can be done than when I first uploaded the story ;), such as Italics…
That is the reason behind Story's prolonged hiatus and the cause for this rewrite. Hopefully this is the better, more canon-ish, much improved version. Now with precise full moon dates!
P.S. Oh. Preface for this chapter is supposed to be dated not long after the DoM happenings at the end of OotP. Story itself is now updated (as much as I could) according to the canon in HBP.
I had never expected to have this duty thrust upon me. I had never expected to be the one to tell this tale. It had never seemed necessary, back in those days. I suppose I always thought they would be there forever for him. Be there for me.
In my mind's eye I had always thought we would all sit there, on the back balcony of their lovely little house at Godric's Hollow and tell him the story of our seven years at Hogwarts, the secret passages and the hidden rooms, warn him to always keep an eye out for Filch and his infernal cat, teach him pranks. Then, in that wonderful world of my illusions, we would all laugh and remember the good times, when we had escaped Head Students and Prefects and had done all we could to avoid being caught in the act, the excuses we used to make up. We would tell him about the map and how it was his duty to save it from that locked drawer in the Caretaker's office.
But it had all came tumbling down in the end, didn't it? Serves me right for thinking I had the right to a good life. Serves me right for thinking I could have friends. They are gone. Gone before he even got to know them. Gone before they could tell him how much they loved him. Gone before I could tell them they were everything to me.
And now that Sirius is gone…
Gone. How can this possibly be? How can I, of us all, be the last Marauder?
It sounds so wrong to my ears. I was never a Marauder. We were always together. Almost from the very start none of us was ever alone. We were always the Marauders, the four of us. Always.
When I had first met him, their only son, the only remnant to my two best friends, he had been a boy of thirteen. A little boy, but one who had already fought and survived Voldemort three times. What did we know at thirteen? All we had cared about was playing pranks on everyone and teasing the girls. So I didn't tell him the story then, even though I should have done so. I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I couldn't get the words out of my mouth.
It had been twelve years since that Hollowe'en. Twelve years since that betrayal.
The next time I had seen him he was already fifteen. Grown bitter from all he had been forced to endure. I do not blame him.
Still I could not bring myself to tell him. The pain was too fresh, even after all that time. Wounds that I thought sealed for good had started bleeding again, opened by the discovery that it had been Wormtail who had betrayed them. The one who had betrayed us all.
But then Sirius… No. I cannot bring myself to say this. Though I know I will never see him again, I cannot use this word in context to Sirius Black. Not the temperamental, blunt Sirius Black who was always the liveliest of us all, so full of mischief and verve. All I can say is that now I finally realized that I am the only one left who is able to tell him our story. The whole story. The story only four people in this entire world had ever known in full.
One is dead - betrayed by the second. The third is gone. The fourth… the fourth is me.
This story begins - and apparently ends - with me.
Sometimes I think that if it were not for me none of this would have happened. And even though I know that it is not right, I cannot stop blaming myself. If I had not been bitten, then I would have been like everyone else and probably sorted into Ravenclaw. If Dumbledore had not taken pity on me and invited me to Hogwarts despite the Bite then I would never have met them, and if I would never have met them, then they would never have discovered my secret, and if they never would have discovered my secret, then they never would have become Animagi for my sake. If I would never have befriended them, then they would not have befriended the traitor and therefore would have never died, but… so many 'what if's… so many options for stories that will never be told. This one, as sad as it is, had happened, and nothing can be done to change it.
This is the story of Harry's parents. It's a story about loyalty, love and friendship. It's a story about pain, tears and those most loathsome words - Treachery and betrayal.
Parts of it I had not witnessed myself - I have been told of them later. Some I learned from Harry himself much later on.
It is the story of my life.
Who am I?
I am Remus John Lupin. A werewolf.
Chapter One - Where Everything Began
Kings Cross Station, Platform Nine and Three Quarters, ten fifteen on the morning of September first 1971 is where it all began, for better or for worse.
They had arrived there rather early, long before the main rush of latecomers. A woman and a boy crossed the barrier, appearing to be normal as any mother and son, the woman clutching her son's hand as she pushed him through the solid-seeming wall. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. These were Saffron Lupin and her son, Remus, who had stopped being just the average boy almost seven years before, in one fateful moment.
"It will be fine, Remus," Saffron told her son encouragingly, putting her hand on his shoulder in a reassuring manner. She was a tall, handsome, rather young woman, who nonetheless had deeply etched worry lines on her face. She tried to smile for Remus' sake, but he knew she was anxious about him. "No one will know," she continued in a rush. "Professor Dumbledore has assured me it shall remain a secret. Only the staff will know of your condition, dear, and only so they can help you, all right?"
The eleven-year-old boy nodded noncommittally, remaining unconvinced. From the moment his euphoria at actually receiving his Hogwarts letter despite his condition had evaporated, he started feeling terrified that the other children would soon discover his lycanthropy and would shun him. It had always happened that way and he saw no reason for this time to be any different. People were the same everywhere. Humans did not change from place to place. He had learned that bitter lesson a long time ago, at a very young age. However, this was not what bothered him. What really scared him the most at the moment was that he would somehow escape whatever contraption Dumbledore had made ready and bite someone else. This concern had been unintentionally drilled into his mind years before.
Remus' thoughts reeled and turned to the quiet doubts that filled every corner of his mind again and again. No matter how much he tried clearing his head and thinking of something else, the frightening thoughts kept coming.
He had only been a little boy when he had gotten his Bite, but for that he was considered a monster ever since. True, once a month he indeed was that monster, but that did not mean he was not human the rest of the time, did it? It was not like anyone could spot him as a werewolf just by looking at him. He looked just like an ordinary boy, albeit slightly too pale. He looked just the same as the boy he had been before Fenrir Greyback had arrived at the neighbourhood, targeting the Lupin boy. Since then, every time the full moon came about, his parents would lock him up in a specially-made basement, hoping he would not manage to get through the 6 inch thick door installed at the only opening to that confining cellar.
At eleven, Remus could be considered a rather good looking boy with a promise that may or may not be fulfilled that he would grow to be a handsome man as well. Quite tall for his age, he often walked stooped in an attempt to hide himself from those who had made it their habit to ridicule him. He had wavy, light-brown hair bordering on honey-blond that he allowed to fall onto his face, hiding himself behind a curtain of hair. Anyone who managed to get a peek of what was behind the hair would see startlingly light-blue eyes and a very pale, thin face - especially so now that it was so near full moon. His meticulously ironed and cleaned robes practically hung from his thin frame, his gauntness marking the nearing transformation.
Saffron Lupin glanced at her watch, shook her head sadly, and then gave her son one critical inspection before sighing and bending to hug him. He could feel a single tear hitting his cheek and he knew it was not his. He had not cried in many years. Not since his first full moon. His mother sniffled loudly and then gently said "Remus, darling, I trust I don't need to remind you that once you're on that train you must take extra care of what you tell people?"
He shook his head wearily. He knew it by heart. His future in Hogwarts depended on his ability to keep his secret to himself. He vowed that he would not fail.
"Goodbye, Remus," she whispered so softly that even he, with his intensified hearing could barely hear her. Then her voice grew loud again. "Promise me you will eat properly and please learn to talk to people. You will never find any friends if you don't open your mouth. If there's any problem whatsoever I want you to send Zephyr home posthaste and inform your father and me. If something's bothering you - go talk to Dumbledore - he's always ready to listen, and he assured me that you will have free access to his office at all times." She then kissed him and helped him heave his trunk into the train. After kissing him again, she left. He knew she could barely control the tears that brimmed in her eyes.
Once alone aboard the scarlet Hogwarts Express, Remus started looking for a place to sit. Having been quite early, he thought it would not be such a trouble, but while he and his mother had had their talk, people had streamed in and each saved a compartment for his or her friends. Being a self-made recluse, he did not want to intrude and ask to sit in a compartment with anyone. And so he walked along the train, poking his head as fast as he could into compartments. Finding them occupied, he hastily retreated.
Only once was he deterred from his escape. He just opened the door to a compartment when one of the occupants sent a hissing "Mudblood!" his way. He stood rooted to the spot. Two things ran in his shocked mind. The first was why would anyone call someone that horrible name, and the second was that by all rights that word should not be directed at him. While he was not pure-blooded and his father was, after all, a Muggle, his mother was from a long line of magic and therefore it was not right.
He was about to respond to that insult when the girl hissing it, a beautiful blonde several years his senior with her nose up in the air, turned to her companion, a boy his age with carefully trimmed black hair and sharp grey eyes, and said "These are people you should learn to avoid, Sirius. He would most likely end up in Hufflepuff. Duffers the lot of them. What do you want, Mudblood?" she then turned to Remus again, her eyes cold. "Get away from here and stop contaminating our compartment. Sirius - close the door!"
The boy called Sirius nodded tersely. He got up and walked to the door. The look on his face as he surveyed Remus was one of pure disdain and arrogance. His eyes, however, spoke of a very cynical approach to the girl's command. With one last, somewhat sneering, look, he slammed the door in Remus' face, leaving him very confused and thinking that this boy was not someone to be trifled with, and yet a whole lot different from what the girl saw in him.
Shaking the unpleasant experience away, Remus continued walking down the train. Finally, about halfway through, he found an empty compartment and settled down on one of the window seats, then taking out a book he had been reading for the past few weeks, a little bit at a time.
Lycanthropy and How to Handle Your Monthly Indisposition was a rather new book his mother thought would be very helpful to him during his first few moons in a new place where things were bound to be frightening and uncertain. Preparing it for his Hogwarts stay, she had even charmed it to look like an old copy of Easy Charms to Learn for Fun if anyone but Remus happened to look at it. It was an interesting read, he had to admit, but that did not stop it from being immensely depressing, as the author kept repeating on the phrase "and while there is not actual cure…" and others like it. It was mainly that which made him read only a little bit every day.
He was just past Section 3.2. How to Deal with the Urge to Bite when a girl's voice shrieked somewhere down the train "James Potter! I hate you! Today you've made an enemy out of Lily Evans - And I'll be your enemy forever! "
Startled, Remus was not even allowed a moment to recompose himself before the door to his compartment slid open in a rush and slammed closed again behind a panting boy who was choking on his laughter. He was quite short, bellow average that was for certain, but his body was lean and made him appear taller than he actually was. He had a mass of untidy black hair that looked so windswept that he might as well have gone through a hurricane to get to the Hogwarts Express. His large hazel eyes were framed by glasses that slid unnoticed to the tip of his long nose. He was already in robes, though they were not school robes, but finely-made everyday ones, of the type normally worn by the more traditional families of the Wizarding World.
It took the strange boy a moment or two to realize that he was not alone. Finally noticing Remus he straightened, pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose and gave the young werewolf a mock salute. He had a wide smile on his face, and his friendly expression was the complete opposite of the one he had seen on that Sirius' face. Remus wondered how long that grin would last if the boy ever found out what he really was.
"Hello," the boy said, unaware of Remus' bitter thoughts, his eyes twinkling with mirth. "I'm James Potter, I'm very sorry to have barged in like this, but I had to escape a certain fire-breathing redhead, who is out for my blood for some reason beyond me." He flashed Remus a bright grin and seemed to suppress the urge to start laughing once more. "What did you say your name was?"
Remus stared at him. "Err… I didn't say. It's Remus. Remus Lupin."
James' grin grew even wider. "A pleasure. You're a first year, too, right? That's good. I was afraid I would be stuck with all those humourless pure-blooded prats that I know from my parents' parties. Such a bunch of useless gits you have never met in your life, I swear. It's good to meet a new face - one that doesn't have the urge to hex you senseless, mind you." He seated himself across Remus, immediately comfortable.
"I beg your pardon?" Remus asked weakly, overwhelmed by the boy's quick-paced pattern of speech. For the first time in his life he was tempted to think of someone as completely mental, not completely in grip with this world, and that was within two minutes of knowing the person. He doubted that he would be able to insert one word in the insanely hurried babble that he instinctively knew would soon follow his words.
"Oh, it's my fault, I'd be the first one to admit," James said cheerfully, looking not at all remorseful as his words may have suggested. "'Always own up to your actions', that's what my dad always tells me - and I do. I just had a little fun with that fire-breather. It's not my fault she can't take a joke. Really, would you have taken that badly to having a balloon full of water explode on you? It's not even that cold! She would dry in no-time - especially now that Kelly is on the case." Mentioning that name, James made a disgusted face. Whoever Kelly was, he was not on good terms with her.
"Kelly?" Remus mumbled faintly, feeling doomed to pronounce single-word sentences for as long as he would spend time with this boy.
"My cousin. She's a seventh year and now she's Head Girl. Pfft. She's going to be on my case from now until she leaves Hogwarts. You should have seen her face when she noticed fire-breather shouting herself hoarse at me. That's why I left in a hurry, see? She had that expression on her face that means she's going to tell on me to someone." James did not look at all bothered by that prospect. In fact, he looked downright happy.
"You seem rather unconcerned."
"Oh, I absolutely love annoying Kelly. She's so prim and proper; she needs me to burst her bubble every now and then. So, anyway, what do you do when you have to spend hours aboard a boring train?"
The ride to Hogwarts could not have gone more differently than what Remus had originally expected. James, as it turned out by certain things he said, was a pure-blood from a long line of witches and wizards. He seemed to know everything and everyone there was to know in the Wizarding World and had no qualms on sharing his knowledge and opinions with the lonely boy he had just met. He seemed to be incredibly trusting, which made Remus slightly apprehensive, but James' cheerful nature soon won him over. It was hard not to, when the black-haired boy seemed so insistent on having Remus as a friend.
Soon he found himself engaged in a furious one-on-one Exploding Snap game, while James talked, and talked, and talked. The boy was extremely talkative, chatting about anything and everything, jumping from one subject to another without any noticeable connection. His mind almost seemed to stumble over itself in his hurry to tell Remus so many new things; it was a miracle that he never once pronounced a word unclearly. Remus was completely baffled by the strange boy, but James had a charm hard to ignore, and Remus found himself hesitatingly adding anecdotes of his own, trading jokes and laughing at James' amusing stories. His book lay forgotten by his side, and for a moment, just for a moment, he allowed himself to pretend that he was just a normal boy.
During the ride, people who apparently knew James from before had entered the compartment to exchange greetings and, sometimes, insults. James took it all in stride, but Remus could see that the other boy did not want to see most of these people, especially those who had insulted him. Uncomfortably, he remembered James' introduction at the very beginning of the trip, mentioning the 'humourless, pure-blooded prats'. These, it appeared, were the prats. They did not seem too bad to Remus, but during the time he had spent with James he noticed that though the other boy was definitely high up on the wizarding social scale, his interests lay elsewhere, and so he supposed that was why he disliked his peers.
Sometime in the middle of the ride an old lady with a trolley laden with goods arrived, cheerfully asking them whether they wanted something off the trolley. Enthusiastically, James took out of nowhere a handful of coins, slammed it into her hand and picked a variety of sweets and other sorts of food, waving aside Remus' protests that he could buy his own. The amount of sweets that soon sat on the seat next to James was big enough to last the two of them through all their Hogwarts years, or so he thought. It took a surprisingly short time for them to go through it. Though, admittedly, James ate most of it.
When Remus hesitatingly asked how he can eat so many sweets at one go, James shrugged and in the shortest sentence he had said ever since entering Remus' compartment explained that at home he rarely ate sweets, so this was his chance to stock up. He did not explain why he rarely had sweets at home, and Remus, afraid of pushing too far and being shunted aside, did not pry.
A little while later, when James just finished dealing a fresh hand of cards, their compartment's door slid open and a tall girl with her long brown hair braided peeked into the compartment, her polite expression turning foul as she spotted James. Quickly glancing James' way, Remus noticed a similar expression on his face. Soon, however, his face cleared and a smirk spread on the other boy's lips.
"Why, good afternoon, my good cousin," he said with a jaunty hint to his voice. "How may I be of assistance?"
The girl, whom Remus surmised to be Kelly, scowled at the grinning James. "One day that big mouth of yours would get you in big trouble, James," she growled. "I've been looking for you, little cousin, and I think you know why."
"Though I am delighted at being at the top of your priorities, Kelly, I must say that I don't know why. Enlighten me, if you please."
Remus watched this exchange with interest. James was a fantastic actor, was one thing he learned from observing the pair. While it was obvious that he knew precisely what had brought his Head Girl cousin to their compartment, nothing betrayed that apart of the amusement in his hazel eyes. As he had said, he enjoyed ticking off his cousin immensely, and by the looks of it, it happened often in the past. He had Kelly twisted right around his little finger.
"You little brat," she hissed. "Aunt Laura and Uncle Gavin may put up with this, but I most certainly will not. I am Head Girl this year, and I will have your obedience! If you put one toe out of line, I will put you in detention that will last you to the rest of your Hogwarts years! Do you understand that, little cousin?"
"Oh, I understand perfectly," James replied, now with a dangerous glint in his eyes. "I promise you this, Kelly. I never listened to any of your threats, and I have no intention to start listening now. You may prance about the school with your badge and impress the teachers and other students, but I am coming to Hogwarts in order to have fun, and fun I will have, no matter how. If you will try to stop me, it will mean war. Do you want that, Kelly? You know what I am capable of doing."
Kelly's face turned an even darker shade of anger. She towered over her rather short cousin and gritted "Then it's war, you little brat. I will haunt your every step, mark my words. You will spend so much time in detention that you will have a threat of suspension over your head the whole time. And guess what? Aunt Laura will hear of every one of your exploits."
"Fine," James replied indifferently.
"FINE!" Kelly finally shouted and got out of the compartment, slamming the door behind her.
Remus, who found this last part of the conversation very confusing, thought that James would be upset because of this declaration of war, that he would be slightly less jovial now, maybe downcast, but as he turned to look at the other boy, James only looked thoughtful, contemplating. But when he noticed Remus' eyes on him, he lifted his head and grinned, slightly raising his deck of cards.
Upon reaching the Hogsmeade station, dressed in their school robes (though James seemed reluctant to change out of his comfortable robes from home), the two boys exited the train in high spirits. However, as soon as the cold night air touched his cheeks Remus, a little less happy now that the prospect of not being at the same House as the boy he had befriended in a way hit him, felt his wide smile falter. Apprehension resumed its place in his mind. What would happen now?
As for James, he was completely unaware of Remus' anxiety and looked this way and that eagerly. Unlike other first years, who were terribly frightened of what was to become of them (the rumour persisted that during the sorting you had to fight some nasty dark creature - otherwise you would be kicked out), he was quite happily chatting to a silent Remus, coming up with the most frightful ideas of what the sorting consisted of and how he was certain they would both pass it easily.
The dimly lit platform was packed with students, chaotically moving. The main stream of students seemed to go in a certain direction, and the two of them made to follow when a huge voice boomed at them all above the heads of the entire student body.
"Firs' years! Firs' years over here!" the voice rumbled from the end of the platform, clearly heard even over the hubbub of older students conversing among themselves.
Looking ahead, Remus' eyes grew to the size of dinner plates when they met the sight of the gigantic form proceeding rapidly towards the crowd. It was a giant - a wild, coarse giant, with almost no face under a bush of combined hair and beard and who knew what else. His clothes could supply enough fabric for three different people, and Remus fashioned the ground practically groaned under his feet with every step he took.
"Bloody hell," James uttered next to him, obviously in awe. Thinking it took a lot to surprise James Potter, Remus found this achievement commendable. Looking back at James, he realized his friend was not there. Without much hesitation, the short boy was already halfway to the giant. Hurriedly, but not without caution, Remus followed. He arrived there just in time to hear James asking rather tactlessly, but to the point "Are you a giant?" which was followed by gasps of awe and fright from fellow first years who had taken his example and neared the giant man.
The man chuckled, though there was a strange glint in his eyes. "Nope. That I am not. Name's Hagrid - I'm the Gamekeeper here at Hogwarts. Now, are all the firs' years here?" When he was answered by a soft murmur of assent, he pointed, with a wide sweep of his hand at what appeared to be a dark, glittering surface. "A pleasure ter meet you. Now up you go and into the boats."
"Boats?" Remus heard someone asking faintly, as though they were about to be sick.
They walked in a tight group after Hagrid as he led them towards the surface, which turned out to be the very edge of a large lake, where a long line of small boats awaited.
"Four ter a boat!" Hagrid boomed. "C'mon! Hurry up!"
Not surprisingly, James was one of the first to dare settle in a boat, quickly followed by Remus, who did not want to sit with someone whom he did not know. The two others on their boat was a small, mousy girl with curly black hair who seemed to shrink into her seat, and an averagely built blonde boy, who was most likely of Muggle heritage, seeing the stunned expression on his face as he looked all around him.
Soon enough all children were in the boats and then they all shot like arrows in the direction of the huge cliff on top which the castle was perched. The rather cold, though exhilarating cruise was followed by a long climb within the cliff, that led them all the way up to the front doors of Hogwarts.
Remus could not believe that he was really going to set foot within the school. After all this time, after the relaxed ride, and the fun and the excitement at having someone befriend him unconditionally, the inconceivability of the situation struck him once more. He, a werewolf, was actually entering Hogwarts. The impossible has turned possible after all.
A stern witch called Professor McGonagall, whose name Remus had recognized from his Hogwarts letter which he had disbelievingly read again and again since it had arrived, led them in a big group into the Great Hall in which four tables stretched on until they stopped in front of a raised dais on which sat the staff. As she gave them a succinct welcome, the young werewolf decided this was not a woman to be trifled with and in his mind was resolute to never give her cause to punish him.
Remus' anxiety grew to a very high level. The possibility that he may not be in the same House as James, that only started to rear its ugly head on the platform, now tried to consume his thoughts. It was one chance in a million that James had been so friendly to him in the first place. He very much doubted it would happen again.
It felt so good to have James with him on the train. When they were on the train he felt like a normal boy once more. He could not face those seven years by himself now that he had seen the prospect of friendship. And so, as he walked with the rest of his year up to the front of the Hall where a ragged hat sat on a three-legged chair, his stomach clenched in growing fear.
It seemed however, that James was little affected by the fear that filled all the first years, and he did not seem aware to the fact that Remus was on the verge of panic. In fact, as they were striding past so many staring faces, he happily continued whispering remarks to Remus about what he knew of the school and the people who went to it. He was almost indifferent to the fact that they were about to face the event that would determine the rest of their lives at Hogwarts. He walked leisurely along everyone else, once again wondering aloud what kind of test they would have to pass in order to be sorted into one of Hogwarts' four Houses.
Soon (to the relief of everyone apart of James who, by what Remus could hear, was rather hoping to fight a three-headed dragon), it became apparent that the only thing they had to do to be sorted was to put on the hat on the chair and wait until it decided which House they fitted in (or at least that was what Remus deducted from the rather odd song the Hat sang).
As soon as the song ended, McGonagall once again stepped in front of the jittery first years, and informing them they had to put the Hat on upon being called, unfolded a long piece of parchment and started reading out names.
The first Gryffindor to be sorted was the shy-looking girl who had shared the boat-ride with them, and who had answered to "Banks, Haley." She nervously walked away from the Hat, joining the loudly cheering table under the scarlet and golden banner. From the responses of the various tables to their newly-sorted members and from James' tales, Remus held his fingers crossed and hoped that the Hat would shout "Gryffindor!" when his turn would come. However, he knew that most likely he would end up Ravenclaw, like his mother. He was the studious type, and that seemed to be the House for people like him. He very much doubted James would fit there, and that heightened his apprehension.
After a couple more B's, McGonagall called for "Black, Sirius."
Remus, from his place in the line, watched as the boy from the train sauntered out of the line, his robes practically billowing as his wide strides led him to the stool on which the Hat was sitting. The arrogant expression still on his handsome face, he raised the Hat to his head and settled down to wait the verdict, a somewhat bitter half-smile on his lips, as though he knew exactly where he was going to end up.
The Hat was on his head for the longest time yet. It seemed to deliberate long on where to put the boy, which did not settle well with the expression that was on his face. When it finally opened its mouth, the word that fell clearly out was "Gryffindor!"
Around him, all over the Hall, whispers began, coupled with gasps and gaping faces. Something was awry. Remus only had to glance at the Slytherin table to understand that this was not what they had expected to hear. The frozen expression on the blonde girl who was on the train with Sirius Black had said it all. To her, Gryffindor was not an option, and it definitely was not what she thought would be called. As he happened to glance at the Ravenclaw table, however, there was one face there that instead of shock showed a mixture of happiness and pride, but also apprehension. It was an older girl, perhaps a seventh year, with long brown locks and sharp features. Her grey eyes were trained on Sirius Black, who still had not taken the hat off.
Next to him, he could hear James' low whistle. He looked his friend's way and raised an eyebrow in question. Apparently James, as a pureblood, knew more about this business than he did.
"Blacks always go into Slytherin," the black-haired boy said in a way of answer, noticing his look, but then frowning as though he wanted to correct himself, yet immediately shushed when McGonagall sent a furious glance his way.
A curious expression now took over Black's face. It was a peculiar mix of fear, excitement and disdain. His steps no longer sure and wide, dragging his feet, Sirius Black made his way to the Gryffindor table.
A few more names later, "Evans, Lily" was called. Lily Evans was a small redhead girl, with her robes in order and a dignified spring to her step. That was all he could see before she turned her back on the other first years and walked towards the Hat. Beside him, he could feel James tense. When the girl was declared a Gryffindor, the boy's shoulders slumped. Glancing at him, Remus could see a wry expression taking control of the boy's features.
"What did I do wrong?" he muttered with a small sigh of frustration.
Sooner than he would have wished, Remus clearly heard his own name being called. His feet felt as though they were made of solid lead. He gulped heavily but did not seem to be able to move. What if he would be denounced as a werewolf by the Hat? Mocked by all and kicked out of the school? He would not bear seeing the disgust on James' face.
It is possible that, left to his own volition, he would have stood there for ever, but a discrete shove from James got him to finally move. There was no going back now, he knew. The eyes of the entire Hall were on him. Breathing heavily, he walked up to the Hat, feeling all those eyes trained on him, not missing a step. He put the Hat on.
"Now, you're an interesting one, aren't you?" a voice muttered in his ear, making him flinch involuntarily. He repressed an urge to look about him wildly, hoping that he was not imagining the voice in the darkness of the Hat. "I don't think I ever had to Sort one of your kind. Is Dumbledore's mind slipping - or does he know what he's getting himself into? Oh, but he does! I can see your mind, boy - and what a remarkable mind it is. You would fit right in, in Ravenclaw. But I see a greater destiny than that for you and there is only one house that can bring you up to this destiny… GRYFFINDOR!"
Nearly deaf from the Hat's irritating monologue and from the furious clapping coming from the Gryffindor table, Remus made his way to that selfsame table and seated himself next to Sirius Black, who moved a bit away, a cold, disgusted expression on his chiseled face. The weak smile Remus sent his way was promptly ignored. He decided that there was no point in trying to coax the boy into speaking, and so he turned his attention to the rest of the Sorting, watching James, who looked more impatient now than anything else. Watching him proved to be very entertaining, for looking at him, Remus could see what he thought of each person being sorted. It was especially amusing when one "Palmer, Keira," was called. At that point, when the girl was sorted into Gryffindor, James' shoulders slumped very low and his face contorted in a mask of pain.
More names had passed before McGonagall had called "Potter, James" to be sorted. Unconsciously holding his fingers crossed, Remus raptly watched as James stepped out of the dwindling line of first years, his head held aloft, a mischievous glint in his eyes.
He walked slowly to the Hat, knowing that every eye was on him, and then, without warning, started blowing mock kisses in every direction. He persisted in it until he was halfway there. Around that time McGonagall snapped at him to get on with it, and he, with a cheeky smile directed at his furious cousin at the Ravenclaw table, continued in a slightly faster pace, sat on the chair and pulled the Hat down on his head. It seemed as though the Hat had barely touched him when it almost jumped on his head, opened its mouth, and roared with the greatest voice it could muster "GRYFFINDOR!"
James, entirely unfazed, got up and with a strangely proud smile walked to the Gryffindor table, settling in the free space between Remus and the little, chubby boy who had answered to the name "Pettigrew, Peter".
Once the sorting was over, and the wondrous feast that had magically appeared on the plates was gobbled up by hundreds of hungry boys and girls, the Headmaster, the acclaimed Albus Dumbledore himself, rose and lifted his hands. The Hall fell into immediate silence, and Remus watched in awe as he laid eyes for the first time on the man who, unbeknownst to him, had changed his life for ever with that simple invitation to be a student in Hogwarts.
"Another year has come upon us - for better or for worse," the tall old man started, his eyes twinkling. "And as in each year, I have a few necessary announcements. First of all, the Forbidden Forest is completely out of bounds to all students. No magic is to be used in the corridors between classes. Biting Boomerangs have been added to the list of forbidden objects - the full list can be found in Mr. Filch's office.
"Any second year and above who wishes to join his or her House team, please contact Madam Hooch for further info-"
Remus, who had raptly listened to the notes given by the Headmaster, was shaken out of his concentration by James' consternated remark on how unfair was the rule that only students from second year and above could join the Quidditch teams. He shook his head at James, whispering that anyway, he was too small - no one would want a Chaser, James' best position, who could be trampled by any passing player.
Before he could get over the shock of actually teasing someone and before panic at maybe losing James' friendship because of that remark could set in, James' face contorted and he ducked his head under the table, stifling laughter that was still heard, earning the two of them another condescending glance from Black and disapproving looks from some of the older students.
Presently, Dumbledore reached the end of his speech and before bidding them all goodnight, issued one last note. "All students should be aware that this summer Professor Sprout has added another specimen to her collection of destructive plants. Students must not go near the large willow planted on the grounds. It is a rare kind of tree and a violent one. Do not put yourself at risk. This is not a laughing matter, and unheeding my warning could have fatal outcomes. You have been warned."
As soon as the student body started getting up, groaning and yawning, conversing among themselves about the matter of the new tree, a fifth year student with a badge pinned to her front called for all the Gryffindor first years to follow her. She led them to the Gryffindor common room, which was the base of Gryffindor Tower, where the dormitories were situated.
Remus and James loitered in the common room for a short while, examining what would be their place to relax and study in for the next seven years. It looked like a comfortable place, with plushy armchairs, many small tables and a roaring fireplace. Remus thought he could get used to the idea of thinking of this place as home.
When they finally entered the circular room a few steps up the boys' staircase from the common room that would function as their dormitory during their Hogwarts lives, Remus stared around in awe, an expression he felt almost engraved on his face since that morning. Four four-poster beds were arrayed around the room, each with heavy scarlet hangings surrounding it and each having a small bedside table. One of the beds was already occupied, its hangings flung shut. Another showed an already deeply asleep Peter Pettigrew.
"Must be Black," James said softly, nodding at the shut curtains. "I don't think he was very much happy to find himself a Gryffindor."
"Neither do I," Remus concurred, sighing. As much as Black was unfriendly to them all, he did not think it was right for him to isolate himself needlessly. At the moment, however, there was nothing he could do, and so he bid James goodnight and, after changing and closing the curtains around his bed, went to sleep, his first day at Hogwarts complete.
Well? What did you think? Please review and tell me, because it means a lot to me and helps me along - so please do write and express your opinion on this new version of the old story!
Thank you very much!
-Star of the North