Sirius Black had been excited about going to Hogwarts, though he hadn't expected to arrive a month before everyone else.
Of course, he hadn't expected a lot of things, though he didn't think anyone could blame him for that.
He was currently under Madam Pomfrey's care in the Hogwarts infirmary, as he suspected he had been for some time. His memory of the past few days was fuzzy at best, though he remembered the events at Grimmauld Place all too well.
Sirius was about to ask Madam Pomfrey for some more of her dreamless sleep potion when Professor Dumbledore walked in and gave Sirius a small smile.
"Ah, I see you're finally awake, Mr. Black. How are you feeling?"
Sirius shrugged. He didn't know how he felt—numb, maybe.
Professor Dumbledore nodded, and conjured a chair beside Sirius's hospital bed. It was then that Sirius noticed he was carrying what appeared to be a very old, very worn hat with him.
"What's that for?" Sirius asked curiously.
"Oh, this?" Dumbledore gave another small smile. "This, my boy, is the Hogwarts Sorting Hat. It decides what House all new students will be in."
"Oh." Sirius gulped as he fought a new wave of tears—it was so stupid, after everything that happened, that he would be brought to tears just because he wouldn't be allowed to attend school at Hogwarts. Really, he had much bigger problems.
"I thought we'd let you be sorted early."
Sirius, who had been concentrating very hard on the soft white bedding surrounding him, jerked his head up at those words. Surely, Dumbledore couldn't mean…?
"But—but my parents will find me, if I go here," Sirius said, confused.
Dumbledore nodded. "Yes, I rather suspect they would, if Sirius Black were to attend Hogwarts."
Sirius wrinkled his brow in confusion. "But you just said—oh. Oh! You mean, I would be disguised as someone else?"
Sirius considered this. He could still go to Hogwarts, after all! "So, just a new name and change my hair to brown and my eyes to blue, and that's that?"
Dumbledore sighed. "I'm afraid that wouldn't be enough. Your parents already suspect that Andromeda may have brought you to me, and if a mysterious male student arrives at Hogwarts this year they would surely investigate. Once they discovered the truth, I would have no alternative but to return you to them."
Sirius, who had just felt happy for the first time in recent memory, wasn't about to give up that easily. "But Professor, there has to be a way to disguise me!"
Dumbledore nodded his head slowly. "Yes, I do believe there is. But I don't know if you would be willing to agree to it. It would require a great deal of deception on your part."
"What do you mean, Professor?"
"I have an idea that I believe may work, but I want you to consider it very carefully before you decide. Can you do that for me, Mr. Black?"
Sirius looked Professor Dumbledore in the eyes and nodded.
"It would be impossible for you to attend Hogwarts—or any wizarding school on the continent—as a young male, no matter how well disguised. We need for you to remain undetected by your parents until you come of age. The only disguise that I believe has a good chance of working would be if we glamoured you to appear female."
This silence that met this last statement lasted several moments before Sirius started to laugh.
Dumbledore waited patiently for the laugher to subside as Sirius realized that this was not a practical joke.
"But—but Professor—me? A girl? How--?"
"It's a fairly simple glamour spell, actually. It will enable you to appear female to everyone, including yourself, while your body remains physically unchanged. We would also have to alter your voice so it remains higher. Both spells would require you to refresh them every twenty-four hours, but other than that they require little upkeep."
Sirius looked at Dumbledore, dumbfounded.
"I realize this is—er, rather unconventional—but I believe it is your best chance of disguise. After all, who would think to ask a young girl about Sirius Black's whereabouts?"
"If—if I didn't want to go along with this," Sirius said, careful to keep his tone as neutral as possible, "what would happen to me?"
"I would, of course, provide you with an education, though it would have to take place outside the walls of Hogwarts. Most likely I would send you and a tutor into hiding, where you would complete your studies until you turned 17."
"I would be alone—with a teacher—for six years?" Sirius yelped.
"Then you understand why I do not prefer that option," Dumbledore said.
"I do not wish to make up your mind for you, Mr. Black," Dumbledore continued, "but I believe it is in your best interest to attend Hogwarts. Other than your disguise, you would be a normal student, inasmuch as any student is normal." His eyes twinkled mischeiviously. "We would have to construct a background for you, of course, and you would have to room separately from everyone else, but those are problems that can be dealt with easily, as long as certain precautions are taken."
Sirius thought for several long moments, though he knew his mind was already made up. He would not leave Hogwarts and Professor Dumbledore, no matter how humiliating this disguise was going to be. He took a deep breath and said, finally, "What would I have to wear?"
Dumbledore appeared surprised for a moment before he began to chuckle, his eyes twinkling behind his half-moon spectacles. "Plain black robes are normal dress for all students, both male and female."
"I wouldn't have to wear knickers or anything, would I?" Sirius demanded, his cheeks slightly hot.
Dumbledore appeared as though it was requiring great effort not to laugh. "No, Mr. Black, knickers would not be necessary. The glamour only works on—ah, the visible parts of your body."
Sirius gave a sigh of relief. He had been very worried about would happen down there.
"Okay, Professor Dumbledore," Sirius said finally. "I'll do it."
Just as suddenly as he had started chuckling, Professor Dumbledore became sober once again. "If you do this, Mr. Black," he said, sounding grave, "you would have to maintain complete secrecy. Your disguise could not be compromised, no matter what. You would have to keep your identity secret from everyone. If anyone discovered who you really were, I would be unable to protect you from your parents, and you would not be able to testify against them, as they would undoubtedly prevent you from doing. Do you understand the full gravity of this situation?"
Sirius closed his eyes and thought about his dead brother, Regulus, and how his parents would make sure he was next if they found him. He thought about his cousin, Andromeda, who had saved him before it was too late. And he thought about revenge, and how he had to stay alive.
Sirius opened his eyes. "I understand," he said firmly.
Dumbledore gave him a sad smile, and handed Sirius the Sorting Hat.
With hands that only shook slightly, Sirius placed the Hat on his head. He didn't even have a chance to think not Slytherin before the Hat boomed, "GRYFFINDOR!"
Dumbledore beamed, though Sirius could tell he wasn't surprised.
After a few moments consideration Sirius realized he wasn't, either.
Sirius was sitting in a compartment alone aboard the Hogwarts Express, already dressed in his Hogwarts robe. His glamours were fresh; he'd cast the renewing spell just before he'd portkeyed from the castle to King's Cross with Madam Pomfrey. Even though he was already sorted ("we'll have to make sure you have the proper living arrangements, after all,") he had to do it again in front of the school. Sirius liked to think of it as a huge prank—he has to trick everyone, so it has to be convincing.
A few days after he'd told Dumbledore he would agree to the disguise, Professor Dumbledore had held a meeting with his head of house, Professor McGonagall, as well as Professor Flitwick and Madam Pomfrey. Professor Dumbledore told Sirius that all of his professors would know who he really was, but that they were sworn to secrecy and would only use the information to help him. At first Sirius had been worried about so many people knowing his secret, but then he'd met them all (except for Professor Sprout, who was busy with planting something called a Whomping Willow) and had been relieved.
Professor Flitwick had cast the glamour first. Sirius was expecting to immediately feel weird and different, but to his surprise he didn't. Of course, nothing could have prepared him for when he looked in the mirror.
His dark hair, which he usually kept fairly short, now went past his shoulders. He also had bangs. His cheekbones, which were already high, now had a much softer edge. His eyelashes were longer, and while his eyes were the same shade of grey, the overall effect was dramatic. His lips were fuller and pinker, and his nose was slightly smaller.
When he looked down at his hands, he realized that they were much smaller, and all the angles of his body were more curvy. (Luckily Madam Pomfrey had agreed that giving him the appearance of having other curvy girl parts was not necessary, as not every girl was particularly curvy, especially not this early. He liked his chest flat, thank-you-very-much.)
The spell that made his voice higher didn't produce nearly as dramatic a change as everything else had since his voice wasn't all that deep to begin with. Still, it took him a few weeks before he began to recognize the unfamiliarly high cadence as his own.
None of these changes alone would have made him unrecognizable as Sirius Black, but together the transformation was shocking. Overall, he made a worryingly attractive girl.
Since he didn't feel any different (except for when he looked in the mirror, which made his stomach flip with nervousness) the change that had been the hardest to get used to was responding to his new name.
He'd poured over a book of names Professor Dumbledore had provided him, knowing that he'd need a new first, middle, and last name. In an effort to distance himself as much from family tradition as possible (as well as wanting to have a relatively unisex name, as Sirius felt he would rather die than go by a name like Emily or Susan) he chose Alex Rendall (and kept his middle name Orion, at least in his head. If anyone asked he could tell them Orianna).
He was chanting his new name in his head as he sat in the empty compartment, fidgeting with anxiety. The three weeks he'd had at Hogwarts had given him plenty of practice to get used to acting like a girl once Madam Pomfrey declared him fit enough to leave the infirmary. Of course, he still found that he swore under his breath a lot (like when he got lost with all the revolving passages in the castle) but overall he didn't think he'd have to act all that differently. Some girls liked sports and some liked to get into trouble, so he didn't see the problem. It had its advantages too—at night, whenever he felt his eyes getting wet when he thought about Regulus, he could just tell himself that it was all the time he'd spent as a girl and was getting soppy because of it.
His chant of Alex Rendall Alex Rendall Alex Rendall was interrupted when the door to his compartment opened and a red-haired girl poked her head inside.
"Hello," she said breathlessly, her cheeks pink. "Do you mind if I sit with you?"
"My name is Alex Rendall," Sirius blurted out. He cleared his throat, emabarassed from his awkward response. "Er, no, I don't mind."
She smiled and eased her way into the compartment, dragging in her trunk behind her. "I'm Lily Evans. Nice to meet you, Alex."
Sirius felt immediately ill at ease. What if she could tell I'm not really a girl? Would she guess who I really am?
Just as Lily was sitting down across from him, the compartment door opened and two more girls entered, giggling madly. "Hello," the chubby blonde one said. "Are you first years too?
"I am," said Evans, smiling at the two girls. "Would you like to sit with us? I'm Lily Evans."
"Okay," the blonde replied, and she and her friend entered the compartment as well.
Sirius thought, rather hysterically, that if he heard one more giggle and he would spontaneously combust.
The brunette declared herself to be "Margaret Munoz" and the blonde "Addy Johnson."
They all turned and looked at him expectantly, Lily with an encouraging smile and Addy with a raised brow. "Oh, I'm Alex Rendall," Sirius said lamely. He tried to smile, but he didn't think he had much success—the clawing panic inside him screamed doom, imminent doom. "Um, I think I'm going to go and look for—er, I'll see you lot later." And with that Sirius stood up and fled, giving Lily an apologetic glance on his way out.
Once outside the compartment Sirius breathed a sigh of relief. Get a grip, Black—Rendall, he told himself firmly. I'll just find a compartment that's not full of girls, and I'll be fine.
With that thought in mind, Sirius walked down the length of the train, glancing surreptitiously into the compartment windows to find one that wasn't too full and had no girls in it.
Sirius was on his sixth or so peek when he heard a high, nasally voice behind him saying, "Oh, I do hope that Slytherin won't have to put up with any more incompetent additions to the Quidditch team this year." Sirius froze, recognizing the snooty voice immediately as Narcissa Black's. He knew there was a chance he might run into her in the halls one day, but he never expected it to be so soon!
Without caring who might be inside, Sirius yanked open the nearest compartment door and closed it shut firmly behind him, breathing a sigh of relief. He turned around and thought, well, at least there aren't any birds in here. Well, other than me, his mind supplied dryly.
Three boys who looked to be first years were staring at him with some surprise. One, who had black hair and glasses, was eating his way through a large pile of sweets, and was being aided by a shorter, cherubic looking blonde boy. The third boy had light brown hair and amber eyes and looked up at Sirius from his book, which Sirius recognized as Hamlet.
"Hello," he said, licking his lips. Never in all his life had Sirius been as nervous as he'd been today. He hoped his cocky confidence would return to him sooner rather than later. "I'm Alex Rendall. Are you first years too?"
The amber-eyed boy with the book nodded. "I'm Remus Lupin," he said, extending a hand to Sirius. Sirius smiled with relief and shook it.
"James Potter," said the dark-haired boy around what Sirius thought might be several chocolate frogs.
"Peter Pettigrew," said the blonde, looking at Sirius with something bordering on mild disdain.
"So, Hamlet," Sirius said, trying to appear as if he hadn't just burst madly into their compartment, "that's a brilliant book. One of my favorites."
Remus smiled warmly at him. "Mine too."
"Why, what's it about?" James asked, appearing genuinely curious. Peter rolled his eyes and grabbed a fizzing whizzbee.
"About a prince who wants to take revenge on his stepfather, who murdered Hamlet's real father, and then stole the throne," said Remus.
"I can identify," said Sirius softly, thinking about his own parents and how they'd—
He realized suddenly that the other boys were looking at him strangely. "Um," Sirius said, trying to think what he could say, "I mean, I understand why he wanted revenge—Hamlet would have been the rightful king, after all, and then Ophelia died. It was pretty rough for him."
Remus nodded, and James shrugged and went back to his sweets.
"Why're you here, anyway?" Peter asked accusingly, glaring at Sirius. "We don't want any girls in our compartment. We're doing boy things."
"What are you, five years old?" Sirius asked hotly, surprised that anyone could be so immature.
Remus looked shocked. "Peter!" he said, "Apologize to Alex right now!"
James picked up a Quidditch book that Sirius hadn't noticed until then. "Do you like Quidditch, then?" he asked, eyeing Sirius appraisingly.
"Of course I do," Sirius scoffed. "I play beater."
"Do not!" said Peter. "Girls can't play beater! They're not strong enough."
"Oh yeah?" said Sirius, giving Peter a withering glare. "Fine, I challenge you to a wrestling match right here, right now."
Peter rolled his eyes. "I don't wrestle girls."
"Why not?" Sirius asked. "Scared, are you?"
"No!" Peter said indignantly. "I'm going to be sorted into Gryffindor, 'cos I'm so brave. I'm just noble, and I don't want to hurt you."
"You can stop if you think you're hurting me," Sirius gritted out between clenched teeth. "Come on, Pettigrew. Right now."
Five wrestling matches later (the first one Peter declared he hadn't really been trying, the second he lost, the third time he said James's laughter had distracted him, the fourth time his arm'd gone down without Sirius breaking a sweat, and the fifth time Sirius beat James who declared he must be one bloody hell of a beater!). Sirius turned to Remus and grinned. "Wanna go?"
Remus shrugged. "You sure?"
Sirius gave him a winning smile. "Positive. C'mon, Remus. It'll be fun."
Sirius found he didn't really mind when Remus won the match.
Notes: Sirius is not transformed into a girl; he is being disguised as one for reasons that will be explained fully as the fic progresses (yes, you read that right, I'm actually planning on continuing this fic. Brace yourselves). The British surname "Rendall" means "wolf's shield," which I find incredibly appropriate.
Feedback is craved. Madly. Even if it's just telling me that I'm mad. In which case, I'll probably agree with you. g