Disclaimer: I do not own anything you recognize in this story. That privilege belongs to the one and only JK Rowling. I am merely borrowing.
Chapter One: Platform 9 ¾
– September –
James Potter, Sirius Black, Remus Lupin, and Peter Pettigrew raced through Kings Cross Station pushing their trolleys. They only had two minutes before the barrier closed…
"Dammit, Padfoot!" James yelled over his shoulder as he dodged a group of traveling Muggles. "This is all your fault!"
"My fault? How in the bloody hell could this be my fault?" Sirius yelled back.
"If you hadn't set of that Dungbomb in the kitchen, we'd be on time!"
"Oy! That wasn't me!"
"Who else could it have been, Sirius?"
"Will you two shut up? We can discuss this on the train!" Remus yelled behind Sirius. "If we make it to the train," he added under his breath. The full moon had recently passed, making the normally composed Prefect rather irritable.
The Marauders picked up their pace as they sped in and out of crowds.
"Guys!" Peter breathed somewhere behind them. "Wait – for me! I'm – not as – fast – as you!"
"Maybe you should lay off the Chocolate Frogs, Wormtail!" Sirius snapped.
James looked up and glanced at the clock: 10:59, it said. One minute… they had one minute to make it… And they had to make it… his parents would kill him if they missed the train. They'd –
While looking at the clock, James' trolley collided with something hard. James flew over the bar of his trolley and landed feet away on the ground. His trunk had fallen from the trolley, but didn't open – magic was used to keep it shut. His owl cage was rolling away, with his owl inside, hooting indignantly.
Groaning, James looked up to see who he had hit. Any other day, he would have ruffled his hair in greeting, but he didn't have time to show off at the moment. The one and only Lily Evans was glaring at him as she examined the bleeding elbow she received from the collision.
"Sorry, Evans! You okay?" James asked, standing and trying to still his spinning head.
"Shit!" Sirius yelled, coming to a skidding stop in front of Lily and James. Remus stopped just behind him. Peter, however, wasn't as lucky. The moment he saw the collision, his trunk began to spin out of control, sending him into a brick platform.
James reached out to help Lily from the ground, but she slapped his hand away. "Get away from me, Potter," she snapped.
"I said I was sorry!" James said, taking his owl from Sirius.
"I don't have time for you, Potter! We've got about forty-five seconds before the train leaves. Or have you not learned to tell time, yet?"
Hurriedly, Sirius, James, and Remus began to toss all of the fallen belongings randomly back on the trolleys. With twenty seconds to go, the five students took off once more. They were in front of Platform Six… only three to go…
Fifteen seconds… Platforms Nine and Ten were in sight…
Ten seconds… a group of Muggles were passing the barrier, blocking their path.
"Move!" Sirius and James yelled irritably.
Five seconds… Peter's owl cage slipped off the trolley.
"Wait," he yelled.
"Hurry up, Wormtail!" James yelled.
Two seconds… more Muggles in their way…
One second… James passed through the barrier first, followed by Sirius, Lily, Remus, and Peter.
Lily breathed a sigh of relief at the sight of the scarlet steam engine. "Thank Merlin I didn't miss it!" she said. Without a backwards glance, Lily pushed her trolley to the train.
The four boys shrugged their shoulders at one another and pushed their own trolleys forward.
"Whew," Peter breathed. "That was close."
Sirius clipped him in the back of the head and began throwing his trunk and owl cage into the cargo compartment.
"What was that for?" Peter groaned, rubbing his head.
"Just because," Sirius said with a grin.
Once their luggage was stowed, the Marauders and Lily climbed aboard the Hogwarts Express. Lily would have preferred to leave the boys with in with the cargo (well, maybe not Remus so much), but you can't always get what you want.
"Why are you four following me?" Lily asked as they made their way through the train as it began to move.
"It's a nice view," James grinned.
"Potter, don't make me hex you on the first day of school," Lily said exasperatedly.
"You can hex me anytime you want, Evans," he replied smoothly.
Sirius laughed as Lily rolled her eyes and looked for the Prefects' compartment; it seemed to have moved since last year…
Towards the back of the train, Remus cleared his throat. "Er, guys, are we sure we're on the right train?"
"How can we not be on the right train, Moony? Is there more than one Hogwarts Express?" Sirius asked.
"Not to my knowledge, no, but… well, I have yet to recognize one person on this train," Remus said, looking into compartments as they passed.
Lily stopped dead in her tracks, nearly causing James to run into her again (not that he would have minded), and looked into the last compartment on the train. Slowly, she turned back to the Marauders with a slightly shocked look on her face.
The four boys looked back at her confusedly as she looked between the compartment and them. "No way," she muttered under her breath.
"What's wrong, Evans?" James inquired. "Finally realizing how remarkably and strikingly handsome I am?"
"James, those are the same word… Remarkably and strikingly…" Remus said.
Lily paid no attention to James' comment (which was weird in its own way) and stared into the compartment. "What the hell, Evans?" Sirius said, pushing past James to see what Lily was so enthralled with. "Bloody hell," he muttered, his eyes going wide and his mouth dropping open.
"What?" James, Remus, and Peter asked in unison.
Sirius turned slowly back to James. "It's you…" he whispered.
"Are you feeling alright, Padfoot?" James asked concernedly.
Sirius grabbed his best friend's robe sleeve and pulled him forward, forcing him to look into the compartment.
Leaning against the window, with his eyes closed, was a boy about their age. He had the exact same glasses and hair as James; his even stuck up in the back, too.
"What's going on?" Peter squeaked from behind Remus, too short to look over the werewolf's shoulder.
Remus moved forward and looked into the compartment, as well. He raised a casual eyebrow at James. "Do you have a long lost brother, Prongs?"
"Not that I know of…" James said, looking at the boy.
"Should we go in?" Lily asked quietly and slightly fearfully. In these days, one couldn't be too careful.
"Well, we need somewhere to sit, don't we?" Sirius said reasonably, pushing past Lily and James to open the compartment door. "Hey, can we sit here?"
The boy shrugged, keeping his eyes closed and his head against the window.
"Okay," Sirius said slowly, leading his friends and Lily into the compartment. He sat closest to the door, ready for a quick escape, with Lily beside him. Against her protests, James sat on her other side, across from the strange boy.
Peter's eyes widened in shock as he set eyes on the boy – Remus pulled him down into the seat and looked questioningly at James.
'What?' James mouthed.
Remus gestured to the boy on his left. James rolled his eyes and cleared his throat. "So, are you new or something?"
The boy's eyes remained closed, but he raised an eyebrow. "No," he muttered.
"Okay…" James said, looking around at his friends for help.
"What's your name?" Lily asked kindly.
The boy's other eyebrow raised. "Harry Potter," he said as if they others in the compartment were completely dim.
'Harry Potter?' Sirius mouthed to James. James shrugged.
"Are you related to him?" Lily asked James in a whisper.
"I don't know. I don't think so," James answered in confusion.
"So, er, Harry, what year are you in?" Lily asked.
"Sixth," Harry said with a sigh.
Remus noticed the sad look on Harry's face. The boy looked completely exhausted, and a little on the skinny side for a sixth year. Really, he reminded Remus of himself after the full moon.
"What house?" Sirius asked.
"Since when?" James blurted out rudely, earning an elbow in his stomach from Lily.
"Since first year," Harry said, raising his voice slightly. Slowly, he opened his eyes.
Five jaws dropped simultaneously as they set eyes on the emerald green eyes. Lily's eyes, James thought instantly. And he would know; he loved those eyes.
Harry stood suddenly in shock, making the other passengers jump as well. He pressed himself against the compartment window, took out his wand, pointed it at them, and demanded, "Who the hell are you?"