Sirius leaned against the kitchen table and let out an impatient—but amused—sigh as he looked at the clock. Finally, after letting his impatience get the better of him, he went to the hallway and called down to the closed bathroom door. "Harry James Potter! Hurry up, or we're going to be late!"
He listened to the rustling around in the bathroom, muttered curses that made him raise an eyebrow, and watched the door open to reveal a rather distraught looking Harry. "I can't get my bloody hair to lay flat!" he exclaimed, running his hand over his head in emphasis.
Sirius grinned. "First of all, language. Don't let Moony hear you talking like that, or he'll have my head. Second of all, don't even bother. Do you have any idea how many charms and things your grandmother used to try and get James' hair flat before giving up? It's the Potter curse, deal with it!"
"But... it looks like I just went through a wind tunnel!" Harry said, frustrated.
"What's a wind tunnel?" Sirius asked, raising an eyebrow. "Never mind. Look, just forget about your hair for now; you can fight with it later. And it will be one hell of a battle. Do you have your stuff ready to go?"
"Yes, Sirius," Harry said, rolling his eyes. "I packed two days ago, just as Remus insisted."
"Good. Grab your trunk and let's go. We've got a Ministry car waiting for us," Sirius said, walking to the front door. "And don't roll your eyes at me!" he added over his shoulder.
Harry smiled, shook his head, and went to his bedroom to gather his things. His snowy owl was already in her cage, eager to go. She had been a birthday gift from Hagrid, and Remus had insisted on calling her Hedwig.
Looking around, Harry spotted his broomstick standing by its lonesome in the corner next to his desk. For a moment, he debated on whether or not to bring it along, but in the end, he realized Sirius would bust him. So, with a sigh, Harry grabbed the end of his trunk, picked up Hedwig's cage, and headed out to the living room.
Sirius smiled proudly at the sight. "Look at you! All ready for your first year at Hogwarts! You have no idea how much I've been looking forward to this."
Harry laughed. "Oh, but I do. You've only mentioned it a hundred and sixty-five times since I got my letter."
"Oh yeah," Sirius said thoughtfully. "Well, come on, then. We've only got forty-five minutes to get you to London and settled on the train."
Sirius led the way outside to the awaiting Ministry car.
"Can't you magic my trunk? This thing is kind of heavy!" Harry panted, struggling with his trunk and owl.
Sirius just grinned. "Nope, it's all a part of the Hogwarts experience!" he said happily.
Harry glared and continued dragging his trunk across the path to the car. Finally, Sirius took pity on his godson and helped him stow his trunk and owl for the trip. The two climbed in the back of the car and waited for the driver to begin the journey to King's Cross Station.
"Okay, how do I do this again?" Harry whispered, staring skeptically at the solid brick wall between platforms nine and ten.
"Just walk straight at the wall," Sirius said after a small group of Muggles were out of earshot. "I swear, it's not a joke," he added at Harry's raised eyebrow. "What? Don't you trust me?"
"Not after that time when I was eight and you told me the wall in Remus' closet led to Zonko's Joke Shop," Harry said dryly.
Sirius grinned. "You're not still mad about that?" he asked. One look at Harry's face said his godson was in fact still angry over said event. "This isn't like that time. Look, do you want me to go first?"
Harry nodded, obviously wanting to see his beloved godfather make a fool of himself in public.
"Fine." Sirius sighed. "See you on the other side."
Harry watched as Sirius waited for another group of traveling Muggles to pass. He whistled casually and walked straight at the wall. And disappeared.
"Hmm," Harry said thoughtfully.
He looked around again and pushed his trolley straight at the barrier. When he didn't hit solid brick, he smiled and come out on the other side.
The scarlet steam engine that was the Hogwarts Express gleamed beautifully in the light. Sirius was staring at it wistfully with his hands deep in his pockets. Harry pushed his trolley forward and stood next to him.
"Took you long enough." Sirius grinned, not looking away from the train.
"Ha ha," Harry replied, grinning back, but not taking his eyes off the train. This was the first time he had ever set eyes upon the Hogwarts Express. It was magnificent.
"So," Sirius said, clapping his hands together and turning to Harry, "guess we better get you a compartment, huh?"
Harry dismissed the slight sadness in Sirius' voice for the time being and nodded. The two made their way forward through the crowd of families wishing their younger children good luck at school, and warning the older ones to stay out of trouble. They walked the length of the train before they were able to find an empty compartment. Sirius helped Harry heave his trunk overhead and sat Hedwig on the bench.
"Well, this is it..." Sirius said. At Harry's less-than-excited look about finally getting to attend Hogwarts he asked, "What's wrong, kid?"
Harry hesitated and turned to look outside the train. "What if I don't like it?" he mumbled.
"You're kidding, right?" Sirius said with a short laugh. When Harry continued to stare out the window, he said quietly, "Come here, Harry."
Harry turned away from the compartment door and into the awaiting arms of his godfather. "You're going to love it there," Sirius said into Harry's hair. "Remember all the stories Remus and I have told you?" Harry nodded into Sirius' shirt. "It'll be great!"
"Wish Remus could've come," Harry said sadly.
"He wanted to, he really did, but he had to go to work."
"Well, yeah. But being the Head of the Auror Department, I can make my own hours. Remus' job isn't that flexible, unfortunately," Sirius said, rubbing Harry's back.
"Besides, you'll be seeing him soon," Sirius said, pulling away from Harry slightly.
"Yeah, I guess." Harry sighed.
"Okay, before I go, do you have everything?"
"You've got the map?"
"And the cloak?"
"And all the prank supplies I bought you?"
"Yes, Sirius," Harry said, grinning up at his godfather. Not many parents would actually buy their kids pranking supplies and then tell them exactly what to do with them.
"Good," Sirius said, checking his watch. 10:50 am. He sighed. "I've got to get going. I want a letter first thing tonight when you get to your dorm telling me how everything went."
Harry nodded. "Okay."
"You take care of yourself. And don't cause your professors any more grey hair than most of them have," Sirius said. After a moment of thought, he added, "Except Snape. Cause him all the grey hairs possible!"
Harry laughed as Sirius pulled him in for another hug. Sirius kissed the top of his godson's head and pulled away. His grey eyes were oddly bright. "I'll talk to you soon," he said, moving towards the compartment door.
"Kay," Harry said, watching Sirius leave sadly.
"Love you, Harry," his godfather said.
"Love you, too, Sirius," Harry replied.
Sirius smiled, winked, and jumped from the train, closing the compartment door behind him. Harry sat down on the bench closest to the window and waved at Sirius, who waved back. This would be the first time he would be without Sirius for a long period of time. And while both he and Remus assured him time would go rapidly, Christmas seemed an eternity away.
The compartment door opened and three redheaded boys entered, grinning at Harry.
"Hey, Weasleys." Harry grinned back.
"Hey, Harry, what's up?" Fred Weasley asked, sitting across from Harry. George sat next to him, Ron next to Harry.
"Not much, what about you?"
"Oh, you know, the usual," George said. "Percy's still bragging about being Prefect, Mum won't let us tease him, Ginny's all upset because she can't come with us..."
"That reminds me," Fred said, standing up and opening the window. He stuck his head out and called, "Oy! Ginny! We'll send you a Hogwarts toilet seat!"
Harry and the others laughed. They could hear Mrs. Weasley's voice reprimanding Fred, and Sirius' booming bark-like laugh.
"Only joking, Mum!" Fred called, pulling his head back in.
At that moment, the train lurched forward. Harry leaned out the open window and smiled at Sirius, Mrs. Weasley, and Ginny. They all waved and he waved back as they disappeared around the corner.
He brought his head back into the compartment and sat down.
"So," George said, reaching into his cloak, "who's up for a game of Exploding Snap?"
Remus sat patiently at the long table looking out at the sea of first years that had just entered through the tall Great Hall doors. He scanned the nervous looking children for the familiar mop of black untidy hair. Finally, he landed his eyes on the bright red hair of Ron Weasley. And as to be expected, Harry was right next to him. Harry caught his eye and smiled widely. Remus smiled back and gave a little wave.
Harry had absolutely no idea how he was to be sorted. Both Sirius and Remus flat out refused to tell him, though Sirius had gone on in great detail—with a straight face—about the lake and giant squid. When asked, Remus only smiled and changed the subject to the weather, or something equally as evasive.
Remus sat back in his chair and listened as McGonagall gave the usual speech about the students lining up in front of the staff table. She went to the side of the hall, retrieved the stool and Sorting Hat, and placed it before the first years. Remus hid a grin in his goblet at Harry's perplexed look. Even after all the times he had been in the headmaster's office, Harry had failed to ask what the hat was for.
The hat's brim opened and began to sing about the different houses. Once it had finished, Remus clapped along with the rest of the hall. McGonagall stepped up once more with her usual long roll of parchment.
"When I call your name, you will step forward, I will place the Sorting Hat upon your head, and you will be sorted into your houses," McGonagall said to the first years.
Remus had to bite his lip hard not to laugh at the look of indignant shock on Harry's face.
"And what was that all about?" Dumbledore whispered from the corner of his mouth.
"Sirius told him he would have to fight the giant squid," Remus said, his voice trembling in laughter.
The Headmaster chuckled and shook his head, now focusing on the sorting.
To Remus, it seemed like just yesterday that he and Sirius had gone to Surrey for the five-year-old. While there had been many hard times before things had finally settled down, Remus would not have traded any of it in for all the gold in Gringotts. Harry had grown into a fantastic young man, much like his father. He was confident, but not overly so, smart, brave, and loyal. The shy little boy they had begun with was not gone, but only showed himself at the rarest of times.
Remus' life had changed so drastically over the last five years, he often wondered if it was all a long wonderful dream. He now had his family back, some of them anyway, and he was happier than he could ever remember being in his life.
Sirius felt the exact same, Remus knew. The deadened look Sirius had as a result of five years in Azkaban had not gone, either, but, like Harry's shyness, it only revealed itself every so often. There were many times the two friends had reflected on how they nearly lost Harry to Wormtail and Voldemort, and that was when the look was most prominent.
But as Remus had half-heartedly predicted during the time of Harry's kidnapping, things turned out to be okay in the end.
Though Lucius Malfoy was still on the run—there was still no hint as to where he had gone—and Voldemort was still out there biding his time, waiting, life was grand.
The day the Dementor's Kiss was administered to Wormtail, Sirius and Remus traveled to Azkaban to witness it. ("Auror's privilege," Sirius had said darkly.) It was something Remus wouldn't forget until the day he died. He still, to this day, had nightmares about the scene. He shivered at the mere memory of it.
Coming back to the present, Remus focused himself on the sorting. He narrowed his eyes as a blond boy stalked up to the Sorting Hat. Remus hadn't heard the boy's name, but there was no mistaking that face.
"SLYTHERIN!" the Sorting Hat yelled before it had even touched the head of Lucius Malfoy's son.
Narcissa Malfoy—one of Sirius' many cousins—had denied any knowledge of her husband's whereabouts. Sirius himself had questioned her numerous times, and had even searched Malfoy Manor thoroughly. Sirius' job was dedicated to finding the Death Eater who had tortured Harry those years ago, and when he did find him, Remus wanted to be present—it would be a sight to behold.
Remus snapped his head from the Slytherin table and onto Harry. He was slowly walking forward, still visibly nervous. Remus smiled at him reassuringly, receiving a shaky smile in return. Harry sat on the stool and McGonagall place the Sorting Hat on his head. Remus crossed his fingers under the table. He frowned slightly when the hat didn't shout the name of Harry's house after a full two minutes.
Finally, after seeming like an eternity, the hat shouted for the Hall to hear, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Remus had to fight not to jump and cheer with the rest of the Gryffindors. He conceded to a large smile and clapping hard while Hagrid whistled. Harry took off the hat and went to sit with his new housemates.
When he turned to Remus, he was grinning from ear to ear. Remus grinned back and slightly raised his eyebrow in question. Harry's grin faltered a bit for a half-second, but he shook his head and was drawn into a conversation with Percy Weasley.
The only person Remus had ever seen the hat take that long with was Sirius in their first year. Sirius had only recently admitted that the hat wanted to place him in Slytherin, but after a long debate in his mind, Sirius convinced the hat Gryffindor was best for him.
He would have to ask Harry someday what the hat had said to him. Ron Weasley was sorted into Gryffindor, much to Harry's relief. Those two, along with the twins, had been practically inseparable since they had met years ago.
Once Blaise Zabini had been sorted into Slytherin, the sorting ended. Dumbledore stood, stretched out his arms in welcome, and beamed at the students. "I have only four words for you at the moment, and they are: Nitwit! Blubber! Oddment! Tweak!"
The students and a few teachers laughed. The Weasley twins chanted "Hear, hear!" as their feast appeared before them. It was just as magnificent as Remus remembered it to be. He would have to go congratulate the house-elves later.
Once the food had been demolished by the hungry students, the golden plates cleared and Dumbledore stood to begin his welcoming speech. It was the usual speech about the forest being out of bounds (Remus sent Harry a pointed look; Harry just grinned back sheepishly), and the dangers of the Whomping Willow. Filch's list on banned objects had increased since Remus' days, and he had a good feeling the Weasley twins were mostly responsible.
"Finally," Dumbledore said to the students, "I would like to introduce our new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, Professor Remus Lupin." Remus chuckled as Harry and the Weasley children cheered loudly—he ignored the glares from the Slytherin table. He waved politely as Dumbledore continued, "Now, it is time for bed! Lessons begin bright and early tomorrow morning! Chop, chop!"
Some of the older students groaned, but began filing out the hall's doors.
Harry looked like he wanted to ignore Percy's call for the first years to follow him and come talk to Remus. Remus shook his head and mouthed, I'll see you tomorrow. Harry frowned slightly, but waved good night to Remus and followed Percy out into the hall and up to Gryffindor Tower.
Yes, Remus thought smiling, things will work out just fine. And this is only the beginning.